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Posted on Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Ann Arbor teen admits responsibility in 11 graffiti-related counts

By John Counts


A SAES and Mole tag from William Street looking south down the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks.

Ryan Stanton |

A 16-year-old Pioneer High School student admitted in court Monday that he was responsible for spray-painting his moniker "Mole" at 11 sites throughout Ann Arbor.

The boy appeared with both parents in Washtenaw County juvenile court where he entered into a plea agreement and a referee ordered the teen's tether be removed after he received a positive report from the probation department.

Referee Gail Altenburg granted the boy's request for a deferred disposition, which means if he complies with all the terms of his probation, his record would be wiped clean. In exchange, the boy admitted responsibility to the 11 counts, the equivalent of guilty pleas.

"What did you do?" Altenburg asked the boy after naming the location on each count.

"Spray painted," the boy replied.

"What did you spray paint?"

"Mole," the boy said.

The boy's disposition date -- the equivalent to sentencing -- was scheduled for June 18. How much money the 16-year-old and the 15-year-old Community High School student alleged to be the SAES tagger will have to pay in restitution should be known by then. It was unknown at Monday's hearing just how much total the boys will have to pay in restitution. Prosecutors did say "Mole" will at least be responsible for $253 separate from the total.

Altenburg told the boy community service and programs could be part of the punishment. The boy also could be put on probation.

The boy was also relieved of his GPS tether at the hearing after a request was made by Shelia Blakney, his public defender. Representatives from the probation department gave the boy a glowing report, saying he hasn't missed any school and has fully complied with all the requirements.

"I'm not surprised in the least," said Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Jonathan Emmons, who said he was aware the boy was doing well and did not argue against the request.

"I hesitate because on a tether, I know where you are," Altenburg said.

She granted the motion, however, citing the plea agreement.

"Now there's a great incentive for you to comply," she said, otherwise the agreement is "utterly jeopardized."

The boy will remain on house arrest and nighttime surveillance while awaiting his disposition. His parents, who told the court their son is still grounded, are responsible for reporting any violations to authorities.

The 15-year-old Community High School student thought to be behind the SAES moniker is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. He remains in the Washtenaw County Youth Home for violating his tether requirements.

Police said the boys are friends. Mole and SAES graffiti tags can be seen on dozens of buildings, overpasses, light poles and other locations around Ann Arbor.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, May 14, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

Summer is here, now is a good time to see how many scrub brushes this VANDAL can wear out. His probation should be tied to the removal of all his tags.... but do him a favor, get him a cool tattoo that says "Fools names and fools faces are always found in foolish places".

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

Here is a discussion of how NYC combats graffiti vandalism: Ann Arbor's Police Department ought to be given the resources to proactively combat this crime. Our downtown looks like a vandalism war zone.

The Infinite Jester

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

do we really need to spend more money on this? creating a whole division for this would be unnecessary.

Jon Wax

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

stop and frisk works. works pretty damn well Peace Wax


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4:27 a.m.

Remove electronic tether, chump-change in fines, and his parents have "grounded him". Yeah right ... that slap on the wrist is sure to be a determent. NOT!! These 2 young men need to face some real consequences for their crimes or they'll laugh this off & be out defacing property as soon as they get the chance. Plus, this slap on the wrist only encourages other "taggers" to keep ruining public& private property. As for "real consequences" I suggest: 1) hefty fines to be paid by the young men (not parents bailing them out). A payment plan could be worked out with the city - and these guys could get part-time after school/summer jobs that would keep them occupied with all the spare time they seem to have. The building owners & city should not foot the bill for cleaning up their mess. 2) with the remaining spare time they have, they should be assigned community service that involves brushes, soaps, and solvents to remove all traces of their destruction. No REAL consequences = no lessons learned.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Glad they were caught and are being made to pay for the damages. There are others out there--go get them!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

I want to hear that these kids have to clean up every last place they tagged.

Jack Gladney

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:04 a.m.

Is a mole a member of the rat family or the weasel family? Just asking. For a friend.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

Actually - neither rat (Rodentia) nor weasel (Carnivora) but Insectivora (insect eaters).


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

You are all quaffed, you don't even know the kids.

Jon Wax

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

don't need to know em. just need to catch em in the act. it's a form of "community policing" Peace Wax

Alan Benard

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:34 a.m.

I know that the guy tagging SAES is blowing a golden ticket to Community, one of the best public prep schools in the state and for that I have no respect at all. Because he is a child I can only hope that he is now getting the attention he needs from authority figures in his life that he was lacking before. There may be time to correct his thinking and his path so that he does not throw away any other precious opportunities. It is sad to see.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

Hi Nik.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

I'll bet that the reason he wants to be off the tether is the cost of it. You might be quite surprised at the dailey fee charged to the perp for the rental of it. Don't know what it is in Washtenaw county, but up here its about $40 per day, as I recall.

Susan Ursus

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

This is why there is so much tagging going on-- even in the rare cases in which the perpetrators are caught, the punishments are trivial.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.

Two more good ones out for a season.

Jon Wax

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

ya got lucky, kids. big time. Peace Wax


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

So am I hearing this right, that we're talking about MAYBE $243 and MAYBE probation? Are you serious? That's the kind of thing I'd tell potential graffiti recruits. "Dude, don't worry about it, I put my sign all OVER this town and I got CAUGHT; $200 smackers and I bascially got grounded for a couple weeks. Pice o' cake. Now hand me the metallic gray and let's get started." I mean, seriously. You have to do something to make them not want to do it AGAIN, people. Something that makes other kids think maybe they shouldn't START. This ain't it. C'mon, WAKE UP!!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:36 a.m.

Well, I guess I'm a poor reader. I saw stuff about his agreeing to the 11 counts and his record would be "wiped clean."

John Counts

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

This teen will be solely responsible for $243 restitution. He and the 15-year-old co-defendant will jointly be responsible for an amount unknown at this time, as is indicated in the story. They still have to tally up the damage from a dozen different places. They should have the full amount of restitution when the teen is sentenced. There were also be court fees both will have to pay. Also, the referee could very well sentence one or both teens to time in the Washtenaw County Youth Home. Or probation. Or both. These are the things that are decided at the next court hearing.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

"Ann Arbor teen admits responsibility in 11 graffiti-related counts" 11? How about 100+!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

11 counts that the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless there are witnesses to the act, a simple tag isn't sufficient.

The Infinite Jester

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 10 p.m.

I haven't seen too many "Mole" tags compared with "SAES". Even today I saw at least 10 SAES tags and not a single Mole tag.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

I called the police during ToP last summer for two kids tagging light poles. I was sadly disappointed in the response I received. I hope the A2 police have changed their feelings about tagging.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

I think he should spend some time with one of the business owners he tagged and find out from them how much it costs to have the graffitti removed. He really needs to understand that this is not a victimless crime. He should then have to go to each business - in person - to apologize.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

These two should be required to clean up every bit of the mess they inflicted on the people of this city. Also, their names and photos should be published. That way the people can keep an eye on where they are and what they're up to.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

Seldon, unlike some other states, like Illinois, members of the public can enter the courtroom and see and hear what is going on. The names of the youth are posted on lists outside the courtroom (the docket). I'm glad that the paper doesn't report on the names/photos. Part of the juvenile code philosophy is to give kids a chance at rehabilitation and a fresh start. So, a few people here and there will know, but not hundreds. Of course, for some offense like murder, the case can be "designated" an adult case.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

Are the names public record?


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

I think publishing their names and pictures is over reacting just a bit. I know tagging is an eyesore but it's not something heinous like armed robbery or worse.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Barzoom- Although I completely understand the desire for the names/photos to be published we have a policy to not report the names or images of minors and will be following that in this case as well. Thanks for understanding.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

Good, I'm glad one of these kids is taking some responsibility.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

One more tag from this kid and he'll be put on Double Secret Probation.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

It's not over 'til he SAYS it's over! Scrub brush: Dead! Turpentine: Dead!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Well, you can do whatever you want to him, but he's not going to sit around and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!

Audion Man

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

I think the readers of Ann should go out and photograph every bit of "SAES" handiwork they can find and submit it to the court. There must be dozens, if not hundreds. They should be held to account for each and every one.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

I'm sure this kid wants to be known for his work. Posting pictures of each of his moments of vandalism would make his heart happy.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

They should also go out and get photos of "TOY". I watched this kid look both ways then leave his tag at Liberty and First with a marker, and run like a thief. I know who he is and see him around downtown quite a bit. I am going to point him out to the PD when the opportunity arises. His tag is also all over the place.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

Punishment should include cleaning up everything he tagged. That perpetrator of "SAES" is much more malevolent, IMHO. I see those tags everywhere. It is far less artful in nature and much more like visual garbage. Cleaning up those tags would - again - be an appropriate punishment IMHO.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

In the case of the SAES guy, he'd be out there for months cleaning it all up. I'd be okay with that.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

"Cleaning up those tags would - again - be an appropriate punishment IMHO." Completely insufficient. I mean, really. "I just had to clean it up" That isn't a punishment, that's just a first line requirement.