Shelton Delegation Applauds Increased Penalties for War Memorial Vandalism

May 21, 2012

Hartford – State Senator Kevin C. Kelly (R-21) and State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113) and Larry Miller (R-122) applauded the final passage of legislation that increases penalties for those who vandalize, possess, war and veterans’ memorials.

“It is my hope that these increased penalties will serve as an added deterrent to those who see war memorials as nothing more than scrap metal,” said Senator Kevin Kelly. “We enjoy freedom of expression because of the dedicated service of our veterans, some who died to give us these rights. To use our freedom to desecrate our veterans’ service is repugnant. This law will help deter that conduct.”

Public Act No. 12-38, “An Act Concerning Desecration Of War Or Veterans’ Memorials,” imposes harsher penalties on those who interfere with or vandalize war or veterans’ memorials or monuments. It also increases penalties for unlawful possession, purchase or sale of a war or veterans’ memorial or monument. Both of these offenses become class D felonies and carry a fine of $5,000.

“I personally find this repulsive that individuals would desecrate their veteran’s monuments that were erected in recognition of their service to our country, some of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Representative Jason Perillo. “This law will discourage this kind of theft.”

During November and December 2011, towns throughout the Naugatuck Valley suffered a series of thefts of war and veterans’ memorials. Large memorial plaques honoring local war hero Frank Witek were stolen from Witek Park in Derby. Another plaque was stolen from a war memorial on Woodbridge Avenue in Ansonia. In Shelton, a third memorial that honored Commodore Isaac Hull for his service in the War of 1812 was also stolen. All three were likely stolen for their value as scrap metal.

State Rep. Lawrence Miller also supported the legislation and voted for the bill on the House of Representatives floor.

The bill was initially introduced by the Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs as Senate Bill 198, which passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It was signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Monday, May 14th.