Homeless man sentenced for robbing Queens churches

24-year-old Joseph Woznik is sent to jail for up to 4 1/2 years after pleading guilty to burglary as a hate crimeto hate crime after he broke in to four houses of worship in Queens.
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A homeless man who said he was “mad at God” when he robbed several churches in the borough was sent to jail last Friday, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Joseph Woznik, 24, was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to burglary as a hate crime and other charges for series of break-ins at four house of worship, in which he stole cash, checks and damaged property belonging to the religious institutions, which are located in Flushing, Woodside and Elmhurst.

Woznik was sentenced by Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry A. Kron.

“The defendant sought to enrich himself as well as to strike vengeance on God by stealing from the religious institutio­ns,” DA Richard Brown said.

According to the charges, the first burglary occurred March 21 at Bangladesh Hindu Mandir Temple in Flushing, according to the DA’s office. A temple employee discovered that three donation boxes had been forced open and that the cash inside was missing. Fingerprints lifted from the donation boxes were a match for Woznik, the complaint said.

He then burglarized St. James Episcopal Church in Flushing three times, Brown said. On March 24, he pried open the office door at the church and took $1,600. On April 3, he broke through the office door again and ransacked the office, taking a digital camera.

On April 10, Woznik broke into the office and took three checks from the church’s checkbook.

Brown said at the time of Woznik’s arrest there were two checks from the church in his possession as well as a pawn shop receipt that indicated the digital camera had been pawned there.

That same day, April 10, Woznik broke into St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Church in Elmhurst but fled when a church alarm went off. He also went that day to Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians (St. Mary’s of Winfield) in Woodside and ransacked the office, according to the charges.

The St. Mary’s donation box had pry marks, and there was a hammer and chisel on the floor beside it, according to the DA’s office. Surveillance footage captured Woznik walking around the church and prying open the donation box with a hammer.

After he was arrested, Woznik also admitted that he had taken a $20 bill from beneath a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Woznik told police, “I’m mad at God. I don’t like church no more. I don’t want to deal with religion. I’m sick and tired of hearing about religion. I don’t break into houses, only churches. I break in to get back at God.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Posted 12:00 am, October 22, 2017
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Reader feedback

Joe Moretti from Queens says:
A 24 year old homeless guy. So what other state did he come from to descend on NYC, home of the give all kind of —— away.
Oct. 22, 2017, 10:55 am
Helton from Flushing says:
We know it wasn't California.
Oct. 22, 2017, 1:02 pm
daniela from astoria says:
He's just using getting back at God as an excuse.
He's just a thief..
At 24 years old, the prime of his life he should have a job and build a future for himself.
Some people are just plain lazy and want the easy way out.
Oct. 23, 2017, 9:14 am

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