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Teen-Ager Pleads No Contest to ‘Chaka’ Graffiti Vandalism

April 24, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A teen-ager alleged to have spray-painted the name Chaka on buildings, poles, signs, rail cars and walls from Los Angeles to San Francisco pleaded no contest Tuesday to 10 counts of vandalism.

Daniel Ramos, 18, entered the plea to the misdemeanors before Municipal Commissioner Robert Sandoval.

″The extent of the property damage made this the worst case of graffiti vandalism we have seen in Los Angeles or heard of anywhere else in the nation,″ said City Attorney James Hahn.

A May 1 sentencing hearing was scheduled. Ramos originally was charged with 48 misdemeanor counts.

Authorities claim $500,000 in damage was wrought on railroad cars, traffic and light poles, buildings and freeway walls throughout Los Angeles County, Montclair and Fresno. Graffiti ranged from a signature of thick, looping letters on utility poles to colorful murals spread on walls.

Ramos was 17 when he was first arrested for allegedly vandalizing about 5,000 items. The activity was not gang-motivated but designed to be attention- getting, authorities said.

Ramos, who lives in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights, was released after the March 8, 1990, arrest and placed on probation. He was caught again Nov. 28, 1990, writing Chaka on a traffic light pole in Lincoln Heights.

″He continued his graffiti campaign on virtually a nightly basis for another nine months before being arrested again by LAPD officers,″ said Deputy City Attorney Peter Shutan.

Police estimate the Chaka mark appears on about 10,000 items. Southern Pacific Railroad estimated $30,000 damage to rail cars and railyard property.

The teen has been jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail and at one point was placed under a suicide watch at a state mental hospital.