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Bronx Teenager Arraigned in Vandalism of Far Rockaway Playground

By DNAinfo Staff on March 30, 2012 4:57pm

A playground on Beach 29th Street in Far Rockaway was destroyed by a vandal early Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
A playground on Beach 29th Street in Far Rockaway was destroyed by a vandal early Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

FAR ROCKAWAY — The lawyer for a Bronx teenager accused of bulldozing $100,000 worth of equipment in a new Queens playground insisted Friday that prosecutors have "virtually nil" in evidence.

Allan Swafford, 17, of Fox Street, stood silent during his arraignment in Kew Gardens as attorney Michael Halpert said that police did not find any fingerprints or DNA connecting the teenager to the March 20 crime.

"The evidence against this gentleman on this particular incident is slim to none," Halpert told Judge Gene Lopez.

Swafford, who wore a tan shirt under a black jacket, is accused of using a skeleton key to operate a John Deere excavator that he used to damage slides, fencing and roofs of play structures at the Far Rockaway Park West playground on Beach 29th Street.

He was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal mischief and burglary.

Swafford swayed from side to side as the judge ordered him held on $150,000 bail and to return to court on April 3. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

The Parks Department has said it is unclear when the playground will be ready or how much the repairs will cost.

"Instead of having a fun place to spend some time this summer, the neighborhood children will be left to wonder why someone would commit such a senseless crime," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Swafford broke into file cabinets of two trailers at the playground and took several sets of keys, a nail gun, drill batteries and a computer bag, according to court documents. He is also accused of destroying nine sections of decorative fencing and 40 feet of curbing, damaging the sidewalk and ripping two plastic slides from the playground, court records show.

Swafford later damaged four platforms including stairs, posts and railings; destroyed a suspended walking bridge; damaged a small slide and tore down another 50 feet of fencing, court documents allege.

He even scrawled "B055 XD AKA ALLAN" in wet cement, with the tag seemingly a mix of his Bronx address and his name, according to the court complaint.

A witness reported seeing Swafford driving the bulldozer through the playground with its front shovel swinging back and forth, court papers show.

But Halpert said the evidence against Swafford was "virtually nil."

"There's nothing there except some witness in the dark," Halpert said, noting the witness was unnamed.

Swafford was arrested on Thursday while already in Queens Criminal Court on a separate burglary charge stemming from an October incident.

City Councilman James Sanders, whose district covers Far Rockaway, cheered Swafford's arrest.

"Far Rockaway is turning a new page, and this kind of senseless vandalism will no longer be tolerated," Sanders said in a statement.