National Alliance Member Charged with Defacing Synagogue

The National Alliance, for years the leading American neo-Nazi organization until it was crippled by the 2002 death of its founder, can apparently still inspire its few remaining members to criminality. The group’s rap sheet—which already features multiple crimes by its members, including murder—may be about to grow longer.

During a Labor Day weekend crime spree, Alliance member John Rocissano, 20, allegedly spray-painted swastikas, SS Lightning bolts and a National Alliance rune on the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Plandome, N.Y. Rocissano and his teenage accomplice, Matthew Felicetti, 17, were arrested on September 1 and stand charged of multiple counts of aggravated harassment and criminal mischief. The pair also defaced a school bus, an elementary school and a house. The suspects have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and posted bail.

Rocissano was already known to North Shore police for handing out the National Alliance tract "Who Rules America?" which claims Jews control the national media. On his MySpace page, he lists his affiliation with the National Alliance and includes their logo in his photo gallery.

"We're very relieved that these culprits were apprehended," said Viviane Kovacs, president of the synagogue's board of trustees to Newsday. "It's distressing to realize that these incidents do happen, and they do happen in our own backyard." Over the weekend, synagogue members fixed broken windows and scrubbed the hate graffiti off the building's exterior walls.

Rocissano admitted to police he was a member of the National Alliance. Detective Sergeant Gary Shapiro, who heads the Nassau County Police Department's bias crime unit, told Hatewatch that Felicetti, the other suspect, was not an Alliance member but was "a likeminded friend of Rocissano who has the same beliefs."

If convicted, the men face could face prison sentences of between four and seven years.

The National Alliance was once the largest and richest hate group in the United States. During their heyday in the 1990s, their members were capable of distributing 100,000 pamphlets in a few days and were connected to several acts of racist violence. Since the death of founder William Pierce in 2002, the Alliance has fractured through in-house power battles and has struggled to stay financially afloat.