Today’s news:

Known graffiti tag returns to Ridgewood

With the moniker of one of the city’s most notorious graffiti vandals reportedly popping up on buildings in Queens, community leaders are maintaining an aggressive campaign in the fight for clean walls.

The tag used by Robert Morrissey, a convicted vandal who had targeted Queens neighborhoods in the 1990s, has been spotted in street and subway locations in Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale, said Lt. Steve Mona, the commanding officer of the police Transit Bureau’s vandal squad, as reported by the Daily News Monday.

Police could not confirm the Daily News report by presstime.

Morrissey is known by the tag DESA, which he spray paints in bubble letters on walls.

“That man did thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars of damage in some of the communities in Board 5,” said Gary Giordano, the district manager at Community Board 5.

Morrissey was reported to have been arrested 10 years ago, after allegedly leaving threatening messages on the answering machine at the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation shortly after the non-profit housing and anti-graffiti group had been founded. He was ordered to perform community service, the News reported.

But he was then convicted of criminal mischief in 1993 for vandalism in Queens and sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison, a district attorney spokeswoman said.

The Daily News reported that he was arrested again in 1996 for allegedly painting his tag on a Brooklyn firehouse. The DA’s office was unable to confirm this report.

Queens DA spokeswoman Betsy Herzog said her office has not received any complaints but is looking into reports that Morrissey has struck again.

At Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation, where his brush with the law began, workers have not observed his supposed return.

“I haven’t noticed anything in my area,” said Peggy O’Kane, a community liaison specialist who runs the organization’s anti-graffiti program. “What’s prevalent now are what they call scribble tags, which aren’t even as elaborate as the bubble letters that DESA used to use.”

The Restoration Corporation removed graffiti at 237 sites last year by power washing or painting, bringing the organization to a 10-year total of 1,985 sites cleaned.

The organization’s leaders are pushing for harsher penalties to prevent vandals from repeatedly targeting the community.

“These destroyers haven’t been stopped by serving community service or even jail time,” Restoration Corporation President Paul Kerzner said. “That proves to me that harsher sentences are needed to stop these vandals.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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