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Pittsburgh's 'graffiti king' hit with dozens of new charges

| Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

The self-proclaimed graffiti king of Pittsburgh has been arrested again.

Daniel Joseph Montano, 21, of Highland Park, was awaiting arraignment Monday in Night Court on dozens of charges of criminal mischief for graffiti that has appeared throughout the city.

Detectives say they believe Montano has done nearly $500,000 in graffiti damage in Oakland, Shadyside, Bloomfield and Lawrenceville during the past two years.

They did not provide more information about Montano's latest arrest on Sunday.

In March, Montano was charged with vandalizing three Oakland buildings after police say a resident caught him spray painting a building at Melwood and Centre avenues. The damage from that incident totaled $25,000, police said.

Montano was arrested last year on charges of criminal mischief and tampering with property in connection with a separate vandalism incident. That case is pending.

In January 2006, Montano pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal mischief in another vandalism incident.

He uses the tags "MFONE" and "MF" and usually spray paints a crown on top of the letters, authorities said. He spells his tags backward, police said.

Jet Lefean, a block captain with the Schenley Farms Neighborhood Watch in Oakland, said residents there have been keeping track of Montano's tags on buildings and homes.

"We call him the urban terrorist," Lefean said. "He destroys brick work and mortar and has absolutely no respect or comprehension of the damage he's done."

The city police graffiti task force, which began six months ago, has cleared dozens of cases of graffiti and vandalism. Its detectives have identified 27 graffiti crews and most of their members.

Police ask that anyone whose property has been vandalized with the tag "MFONE" or "MF" call 911, or visit the East Liberty police station.

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