Man Sentenced To 15 Years For Vandalizing Mosque (Photo)

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A Florida man who vandalized a mosque has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 years of probation after time served.

The incident occurred in January 2016. Michael Wolfe, 37, was caught on surveillance video breaking the windows, cameras and lights of a mosque in Titusville with a machete, the Daily Mail reported.

Wolfe also left a slab of raw bacon on the doorstep, believing it would offend Muslims, who do not eat pork. The move has been commonly used by hate groups in the area as a way to desecrate mosques, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Wolfe pleaded guilty to criminal mischief to a place of worship and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on a hate crime conviction, Todd Brown, spokesman for the state attorney’s office, said. He was also sentenced to 15 years of probation following his release.

“He entered a plea deal and plead guilty to vandalizing the mosque itself with hate crime enhancement, making it a felony,” Brown told Florida Today. “He waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation.”

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Brown said the Florida CAIR branch thought the prison sentence was appropriate for Wolfe's actions.

"The Florida Muslim Community is suffering an unprecedented number of hate crimes," Florida CAIR spokesman Wilfredo Ruiz said in a statement. "Multiple mosques and Islamic institutions have been broken into, vandalized, and even set on fire."

Imam Muhammad Musri, who looks over several mosques in the area, also agreed with the state attorney's office. He said the sentence sends a message to those looking to target mosques or other places of Muslim worship.

"The intent is to really deter similar kinds of hate crime. After what we've seen in Texas at the church, this is needed," Musri said. "Our schools, our churches, our theaters, it's a red line. It's heartbreaking. The hate must stop."

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Brevard County records show that Wolfe has had previous run-ins with the law. His rap sheet dates back to 1998. It includes convictions in burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, grand theft in 2004 and another burglary charge in 2011.

Wolfe was also found guilty of driving under the influence three times, and was previously convicted for possession of hydrocodone and cannabis. He's accumulated numerous traffic violations, and has only spent more than 10 months behind bars for all of his crimes.

Wolfe has 30 days from the date of his conviction to appeal his sentence. 

Sources: Daily Mail, Florida Today / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Titusville Police via Daily Mail

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