Costa Mesa : Painter of Swastikas at School Serves 45 Days

An 18-year-old Garden Grove man who painted swastikas on a blackboard in a Costa Mesa elementary school in June pleaded guilty to three charges and has served 45 days in jail, the prosecutor of the case said.

Daryl Gregory Smith was arrested for a vandalism rampage in June after children in a second-grade classroom at California Elementary School discovered Polaroid pictures that the suspect had taken of himself and left in the classroom.

Police said Smith held a camera at arm's length and took pictures of his face and the top of his head, with the classroom bulletin board in the background.

At the time of arrest, police said Smith wore a black T-shirt, blue jeans and military boots and had a crew cut--characteristics of a "skinhead."

But police and Smith was not a skinhead. He merely spent time with them.

"He may hang out with skinheads, but he does not preach white supremacy," said Costa Mesa Detective Bob Fate. "He was just goofing around."

The prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Diane Archer, said the case was not considered a hate crime.

"The police knew him," Archer said. "They didn't see him as a threat. It was an isolated incident."

Smith took $40 in change and ate food from an earthquake preparedness kit in the classroom.

School janitors cleaned up the vandalism before students or teachers could see it, he said.

Smith pleaded guilty to mischief, petty theft and resisting arrest after he tried to flee from arresting officers. Two other charges, breaking and entering and possession of marijuana, were later dropped, Archer said.

Smith, placed on three years' probation, was ordered to pay for clean-up costs, she said. Neither Smith nor his attorney, Catherine Lugo-Rinaldi, deputy public defender, would talk about the case.

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