A longtime Bronx graffiti artist who claimed to have gone mainstream returned to his roots by tagging a subway car uptown, police said.
Fernando Carlo - whose graffiti has covered trains, walls, and trucks since the late '70s - was busted this week. Police said Carlo, better known as Cope or Cope2, slipped into a subway yard at 207th St., using a train as his personal canvas.
"It was a nighttime hit," he told police after his arrest Wednesday morning, according to court records. "I don't paint trains in the daytime. I went through the side gate by the gas station. I buffed out my tag, COPE. I just did it and drove away."
Police said Carlo, 41, spray-painted a train Sept. 11, 2009, using black, blue, purple and pink. Cops said he wasn't busted until this week, because they were waiting for him to return from abroad.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," he told police.
Investigators said Carlo tagged a train at the same yard in October of 2008, using the colors blue, pink, red and yellow. He was charged with two counts of felony criminal mischief and one count of making graffiti, a misdemeanor.
Carlo was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment Wednesday night. He declined comment when reached by phone yesterday.
The South Bronx graffiti artist started tagging trains as early as age 11. He once proclaimed himself "King of the #4 line."
After several arrests for vandalism and drugs, he swayed toward the mainstream as an adult, designing a hip-hop album cover for Boogie Down Productions. He was featured in a graffiti movie called "Kings Destroy," and his likeness appeared in a 2006 Marc Ecko video game.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) opposed a publicity event for the video game that called for the spray-painting of vintage trains. According to published reports, Vallone called Carlo a "punk" and said the Ecko event encouraged vandalism.
After first threatening Vallone, Carlo made peace with the councilman.
"He seemed to be a good guy and he said he had left crime in the past," Vallone said yesterday. "I'm actually sad to hear about this."Charles Seaton, an NYC Transit spokesman, applauded the arrest, saying graffiti "costs taxpayers and straphangers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year."
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