Graffiti artist receives sentence

MARQUETTE Alex John Watanen, 26, of 216 E. Hewitt Ave, Marquette, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges of malicious destruction of property under $200 and malicious destruction of a building less than $200.

Watanen is scheduled to serve 93 days in jail, which is deferred, in addition to 12 months of probation. His fines and costs total $1,355 dollars, according to a court official. He was arrested on July 22 after a phone call to police regarding a subject seen writing on a dumpster near the 500 block of Hawley Street.

Watanen allegedly eluded officers until he was eventually detained, and had an ink marker on his person. Police said the investigation found that Watanen had allegedly written the word “Gerko” on a dumpster and street sign along Hawley Street. The same tag had been seen in dozens of reports of vandalism across the city of Marquette and officers added that the “Gerko” name is been witnessed in hundreds of locations.

In addition to his charges, the judge also held Watanen responsible for the clean-up involved in the reported tags. Due to his plea, he was not charged with assaulting, resisting, or obstructing a police officer, which is a 2-year felony.

“I don’t want people to think I’m of the impression that this is OK,” Watanen said. “I am very concerned and very repentant.”

Justin Marietti can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 245. His email address is