Montgomery County police have arrested a 23-year-old man and charged him in connection with the desecration of the Shaare Tefila Synagogue in Silver Spring two weeks ago.

Michael David Remer was arrested Sunday evening at the White Oak Shopping Center and charged with destruction of property. He is being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Remer's arrest comes during a wave of anti-Semitic activity in Montgomery County. On Sunday a swastika was painted on the window of a Jewish delicatessen in Wheaton, but police have no suspects in that incident. There have been nearly 150 cases of hate violence reported in the county so far this year.

In response to such incidents, the D.C.-Maryland Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith announced yesterday that it is hiring a full-time investigator and expert in extremist activity beginning Dec. 1.

Montgomery County police said yesterday that Remer became a prime suspect in the synagogue incident after investigators interviewed witnesses.

Remer gave police a Wheaton address, but his stepfather, who lives there, said Remer, who grew up in the Wheaton-Silver Spring area, had not lived with his family since he turned 18. His stepfather said he believed he now resided in an apartment complex in Silver Spring. The stepfather, who is Jewish, said he has had little contact with Remer in recent years, but that he thought he had been employed at a fast-food restaurant in Ocean City last summer.

He said Remer, who is not Jewish, had never displayed anti-Semitic or bigoted behavior in front of him.

The stepfather said that if Remer desecrated the synagogue, it was probably not an act of anti-Semitism but "an act of ignorance."

Police said Remer was charged with two counts of destruction of property -- one for defacing the synagogue walls and another for painting graffiti on the back of a Drug Fair store in the shopping mall where he was arrested.

If convicted of destruction of property, Remer could face a maximum of three years in prison and a $2,500 fine per count.