Miami-Dade County

Man arrested for anti-Semitic vandalism escapes Miami facility

Maximo de la Cruz-de Jesus
Maximo de la Cruz-de Jesus

A man arrested two weeks ago for allegedly vandalizing a Miami Beach synagogue — and sent to a halfway house over the objections of the state — has escaped.

Now, as the Jewish High Holy Days begin, police are looking for Maximo de la Cruz-de Jesus, 43, who was charged with criminal mischief at a place of holy worship for allegedly defacing a banner in front of Temple Emanu-el with a swastika and the letters “KKK.”

After his arrest Sept. 9, de la Cruz-de Jesus was released to the custody of Mercy Hospital, with his bond set at $5,000.

Last week, his attorneys petitioned the court to have him placed at Harbor House, where he was supposed to get the mental health help he needs.

Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, said prosecutors strenuously objected to the move, noting the facility had only a six-foot fence and was not a “complete lockdown facility.” Prosecutors also requested that a GPS tracking device be placed on de la Cruz-de Jesus.

The court denied both requests.

“Someone there from Harbor House said it was secure,” Griffith said. “We objected.”

Harbor House, located at 420 NW 10th St., is a supportive-housing facility that, among other things, assists people who have been homeless and are trying to get back on their feet.

Miami Beach police said de la Cruz-de Jesus scaled the fence during his escape and that they were searching for him. A new warrant for his arrest has been issued.

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