A Riverdale man has been charged with the cross burning that took place several weeks ago on the lawn of a black church in Largo, Prince George's County fire officials said last week.
Marvin Alan Costella, 31, of 4817 Longfellow St., was charged last week with burning a religious symbol, and faces a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail if convicted.
Fire officials said they believed it was the first time an individual in the county had been charged under a law passed several years ago to deal with cross burnings. The legislation made burning a religious symbol a misdemeanor.
The incident took place Jan. 12 shortly after 7 p.m. at the Ridgely Zion Methodist Church, located at 8800 Central Ave.
A man calling himself "Marvin" telephoned a local radio station that night, saying he represented the Ku Klux Klan and claiming responsibility for the cross burning.
Fire officials have declined to say whether Costella, described as a self-employed jeweler, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
The charging of Costella has closed the investigation of the incident, fire officials said, but that decision has been critizized by the Ridgely Zion church.
"They shouldn't stop investigating this if there is any possibility he (Costella) is linked with an organized group," said Rev. Louis Shockley, pastor of the 60-member Ridgely Zion church.