A Boston man who allegedly uprooted four American flags installed at the Somerville Veterans Memorial Cemetery and urinated on them while on a date pleaded not guilty to three charges in Somerville District Court Wednesday.
Michael C. Lacey is charged with defacement of an American veteran’s grave marker, open and gross lewdness, and disturbing the peace for his alleged actions Sept. 10 at the memorial, according to court records.
Lacey, 37, pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on personal recognizance by Somerville District Court Judge Maurice Flynn, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office said.
Lacey, who had been tracked to Rhode Island by Somerville police, turned himself in to the courthouse Wednesday, according to Somerville police. Officers then formally arrested him and booked him on the charges, police said.
Lacey is due back in court Nov. 8, prosecutors said.
Lacey has been sought by police after he was allegedly identified as the person responsible for the incident that was witnessed by passerby George D. Gatteny Jr., who posted photos of the allegedly urine-soaked flags, photos of Lacey and the woman after the incident, and a description of what he saw.
Earlier this month, the posting had 80,000 shares on Facebook and drew 30,000 comments.
According to officials in Somerville and Rhode Island, Lacey traveled to Rhode Island after photos of him were posted and sought medical help at a Rhode Island hospital earlier this month. Somerville officials were planning to seek his rendition, but he apparently surrendered to authorities on his own.
According to a Somerville police report filed in court, Lacey and the woman were on their third date after first meeting on the website OKCupid. The woman, who cooperated with police, said they had been drinking wine at her apartment and then went for a walk at the St. Paul Cemetery in Arlington.
On their way back to her apartment, they stopped at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Somerville. “Lacey walked up and ripped the [American] flags . . . out of the ground” and threw them on the ground next to a memorial statue at the cemetery, police wrote.
“Lacey made some type of anti-government type comment,’’ the woman told police. “He began to urinate.”
According to the report, the woman started walking away before Lacey began urinating. The Globe is not identifying the woman because she is not facing any criminal charges in connection with the incident, according to court records.
Lacey rejoined her a few moments later, and they returned to her apartment. Later that night, her landlord notified her about a social media posting that included a photograph of her and the man police later identified as Lacey.
Lacey was described as a restaurant cook who was originally from Oregon.
A tipster who contacted Somerville police reported that Lacey had dyed his hair brown; photos posted on social media showed Lacey with blond hair.
If convicted of destroying an American flag and defacing a veteran’s memorial, Lacey faces a maximum of five years in state prison.