Suspected Mezuzah Burner Has Nothing 'Against Jewish People,' Says Grandma

By DNAinfo Staff  on April 9, 2013 9:22pm  | Updated on April 10, 2013 6:06pm

BROOKLYN — Cops believe the man who lit fire to a dozen Jewish talismans in Williamsburg apartments is a career criminal who was recently arrested for stealing $700 from his girlfriend before stabbing her in the foot in February, according to police and court documents.

The NYPD nabbed 35-year-old Ruben Ubiles from his girlfriend's Sterling Place apartment Wednesday morning, the same apartment where their relationship erupted in violence just months before, sources said. He was not immediately charged with the arson incidents.

But his grandma whom he lives with in a Williamsburg apartment said the cops have the wrong man.

"He doesn’t have anything against Jewish people. He’s nice to them. They’re nice to him," said Betra Velasquez, 79. "They only got his picture. They don’t have film of him doing it. They don’t have no proof.”

Ubiles — who sources said has about 50 arrests to his name — walked calmly from his girlfriend's apartment Wednesday morning with the swarm of plainclothes cops who picked him up, witnesses said.

"He was cooperating," said Michael Anthony, 51, who lives in the same building as the girlfriend. "He wasn't putting up a fight."

Ubiles allegedly torched 11 religious door ornaments at 85 Taylor St. on Monday before lighting up another one the next day inside 130 Clymer St., about a block away, cops said. The ornaments, called as mezuzahs, contain parchment inscribed with Torah verses and are hung on the doorposts of Jewish homes. 

"im going to get my name cleared," Ubiles wrote Wednesday in a lengthy post on his Facebook page professing his innocence. "one thing i wouldnt do, aside from my history, im know for getting into fights~ NOT WASTING MY TIME ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY WHAT "THEY" CLAIM I HAVE TORCHED. IM KNOW FOR FIGHTING, NOT ARSON."

A roommate of Ubiles's girlfriend said Thursday that she wasn't surprised that he could be suspected of such a crime.

"He's crazy," said Denise Smith, 46. "You should see him when he's high. He looks like Satan."

Ubiles, under the Myspace handle machogreene21, said he likes "TO WRITE POETRY,MUSIC,QUOTES,etc." according to a 2009 blog post.

"LIFE IS LIKE A FIRE, IT BURNS BUT U TOUCH IT- U KNOW IT'S GOING TO HURT BUT OUR PAIN SAYS F**K IT," he tweeted May 2011.

Velasquez said her grandson also enjoyed reading and frequented local libraries.

"He don't bother nobody," she said. “To me he’s good. He helped clean the house. But when he acts bad, I throw him out.”

Ubiles's poetic leanings on Myspace were often interrupted by bouts of rage and violence taken out on his girlfriend, Smith said.

Ubiles frequently demanded money and berated her with insults, calling her a drug addict and dumb, according to Smith.

"He was crazy," Smith said.

Their tumultuous relationship came to a head on Sept. 11 when Ubiles found his girlfriend texting a friend, according a criminal complaint against him. In a rage, he slugged her in the face with a clenched fist bearing a heavy ring and then again in her arm.

She was treated for pain and swelling at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, documents show.

Tensions flared again on Feb. 2 when Ubiles withdrew about $700 from his girlfriend's bank account without her permission, documents show.

She confronted him about the withdrawals when he returned to her apartment, but Ubiles told her she was "asking too many questions" and threw a table at her before snatching a knife from the kitchen and stabbing her in the foot, the complaint against him shows.

She fled into a bedroom where he hurled insults at her, documents show. When she tried to flee, he repeatedly kicked her back inside until she finally escaped and summoned the police.

He fled through an open window when he eyeballed the cops, but was nabbed the next day with a pocket full of crack cocaine, documents show.

In the same 2009 Myspace post, Ubiles ruminated on what he looked for in a partner.

"SIMPLY PUT:IM LOOKING FOR SOME FEMALES THAT'S INTERESTED IN BEING REAL,OUTGOING,HONEST,FUN,SPONTANEUOS,& NEVER A DULL MOMENT,etc.," he posted.

Police were investigating the mezuzah burnings as a possible hate crime. Local residents and elected officials said they were shocked and horrified by the incidents.

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