MELBOURNE, Fla. — A Florida man who broke into a mosque and left a slab of raw bacon now faces 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges, the state attorney’s office said.
Michael Wolfe, 37, of Titusville, Fla., will serve 15 years in state prison, followed by 15 years probation for the January 2016 crime at the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque in Titusville. Prosecutors said the agreement was reached after discussions with the Islamic Society of Central Florida and Titusville police.
“He entered a plea deal and plead guilty to vandalizing the mosque itself with hate crime enhancement, making it a felony,” said Todd Brown, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. “He waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation.”
Details of a motive were not released.
Wolfe pleaded guilty to criminal mischief to a place of worship with a hate crime enhancement Tuesday. The vandalism came as a growing number of similar mosque vandalism were taking place across the nation. Muslim advocacy groups had grown increasingly concerned about a wave of what they describe as “anti-Islamic sentiment” when the Titusville attack took place.
Police said Wolfe broke into the mosque, ripping down lights, smashing windows and leaving behind the pork product. Pork — including bacon and ham — is prohibited in Islam, a faith followed by 1.6 billion people worldwide.
Wolfe also offered to the court the fact that he was a habitual offender, Brown said.
Wolfe is prohibited from returning to the mosque — a condition of his probation. Other details of the probation were not immediately available.
In addition to criminal mischief, Wolfe was charged with armed burglary during his arrest. That charge was dropped in court.
“The agreement was to drop the armed burglary in exchange for his plea,” Brown said.
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