June 12, 2009
 
Goffstown graffiti 'legend' gets year in jail


GOFFSTOWN - Self-described graffiti "legend" Derek Gagnon will have time to work on his memoir because a judge sent the tagger to jail for 12 months last Friday.


Gagnon
Gagnon, 21, is the Goffstown resident who boasted, "You guys just arrested legends," when police busted him and his friend a year ago. Their paint-stained hands held aerosol spray cans, and their legendary work had yet to dry on six downtown buildings.  The two were initially charged with felonies. 

Gagnon appeared in Hillsborough County Superior Court June 4th and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail on one charge and received a suspended 12-month sentence on the other.
The two were initially charged with felonies. Gagnon appeared in Hillsborough County Superior Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail on one charge and received a suspended 12-month sentence on the other.

Prosecutors dropped a felony charge as part of the plea agreement.

"I think it will hopefully be a deterrent that we won't put up with graffiti," said Tracy Degges, the liaison for Weed & Seed, a city crime prevention program. "I was happy the court thought he was not being an artist. He was destructive."

Gagnon appeared in court two weeks after Justin Frost, 20, of Manchester, went before a judge. Both were arrested last June after a security guard at Verizon Wireless Arena spotted them on top of the building that houses Greg's Place restaurant.

That spring, the pair's tags were spotted throughout the city -- "DKRANE" and "Hostyle Fam."

Frost received the same sentence as his cohort, but Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson added 30 days after finding Frost in contempt of court for making a vulgar comment to a news photographer.

When she sentenced Frost, Abramson said: "You are not an artist. You are not a legend. You are just a criminal."


Graffiti on the back wall of Gregg's Place restaurant on Manhattan Lane led to the arrests of Derek Gagnon and Justin Frost last June. 

Their arrests last spring prompted an outcry against them and any graffiti-related mischief. It gave further impetus to a recently launched effort by Mayor Frank Guinta to fight graffiti.

Degges said space is available for murals on center city buildings to keep would-be taggers artistically occupied. Neighborhood watch groups are encouraged to report newly painted graffiti and suspected taggers. And the city Highway Department operates a graffiti-removal van that quickly obliterates graffiti.

Gagnon's legal troubles are not over. He faces trial Aug. 13 in Manchester District Court on charges of prowling and criminal threatening. He was arrested on those charges May 20, the same day Frost was sentenced to one year and 30 days in jail.




 

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