Man Suspected of Vandalizing Landmark Roman Catholic Church Charged

He pleaded not guilty after stained glass windows, religious statues, and other items were smashed at the landmark church.

What to Know

  • A 58-year-old man faces felony charges after a landmark Roman Catholic Church in North Hollywood was vandalized
  • Russel Congleton was arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary, arson and vandalism
  • He was found near Lankershim Boulevard and Riverside Drive, about two blocks from Saint Charles Borromeo Church on Moorpark Street

Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against a man arrested for allegedly vandalizing a landmark Roman Catholic church in North Hollywood.

Russel Congleton, 58, pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon in a Van Nuys courtroom to one felony count each of second-degree commercial burglary and arson of a structure and two felony counts each of felony vandalism and arson of property, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

He is due back in court Aug. 16, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. The vandalism at St. Charles Borromeo Church at Lankershim Boulevard and Moorpark Street was discovered about 4:45 a.m. last Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

Congleton allegedly forced his way through a double door leading into the church and once inside attempted to set three separate fires before vandalizing the premises, according to the LAPD.

Police say he smashed stained glass windows and damaged religious statues, books, candles and holders and spread holy oils throughout the church.

"Upon exiting the building, he set a fourth fire on the outer door," according to a police statement. "During his crime spree, he set a fire to a trash Dumpster at (a) nearby Chase bank and vandalized five vehicles by smashing the windows."

Congleton was arrested shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, according to the LAPD and sheriff's online inmate records. The case was being investigated by the multi-agency House of Worship Task Force.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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