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Graffiti Man Spray-Painted in Face

July 17, 1998

DENVER (AP) _ Mike Quintana caught a teen-ager scrawling graffiti and responded in kind, spray-painting the young man’s face.

Now, Quintana is paying the price. He was convicted last week of misdemeanor assault, sentenced to 40 hours of community service and fined $29.

``Perhaps the best way to summarize this case is the old adage: Two wrongs don’t make a right,″ Judge Brian T. Campbell said.

Quintana, 30, plans to appeal.

``I don’t think I should be in trouble,″ he said. ``It takes these business owners all their lives to build something. Then you got these punks, they’re all punks, every one of them, and they come to their buildings and paint their names on them. It just demoralizes the whole thing.″

Quintana has had to paint over graffiti on the walls at Sloan Lake Gym, where his family runs a youth boxing program. Several times a week, he also cleans up graffiti on trash cans, homes and businesses around town. He even organized a protest once outside the home of a teen-age suspect.

On the evening before Halloween, Quintana caught three teen-agers spray-painting the outside of the gym. He dragged one teen inside and the others followed. Quintana called police, who handcuffed all three.

Quintana said one teen-ager then threatened to kill him, so he grabbed a can of red paint and sprayed it, hitting Jesse Torrez in the face.

During Quintana’s trial, Torrez, 17, admitted he and his friends were wrong.

``I’d be mad, too,″ he said. ``We just did it out of stupidness. We don’t know why we did it.″

Defense attorney Rowe Stayton argued that Quintana believed the two policemen encouraged his actions, but the officers denied that.

Detective Ray Ruybal, who heads an anti-graffiti unit, said police welcome help from Quintana in spotting graffiti vandals, but ``we don’t need him grabbing anybody or chasing anybody.″

The three teens were convicted and received sentences similar to Quintana’s.

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