Sunday, December 21, 2014

Brooklyn Hasidic man pleads guilty to assault as prosecutors toss out hate crime charge 

Yitzhak Shuchat pleaded guilty Friday to assault stemming from a 2008 incident.

A Jewish man who was a member of a Hasidic civilian patrol in Brooklyn pleaded guilty Friday to assaulting a black man with a police baton in a plea deal that tossed out a controversial hate crime charge.

Yitzhak Shuchat will serve one day in jail and perform 25 days of community service as a penalty for the 2008 attack on Andrew Charles in Crown Heights.

Shuchat had fled to Israel after learning he was under investigation and indicted for assault as a hate crime by then-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. He served 70 days in an Israeli jail while awaiting extradition and was on house arrest in Israel before he was hauled back to the U.S. earlier this year.

“Today’s guilty plea is an appropriate disposition of this matter because the facts of the case simply did not support a hate crime and there were no serious injuries,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson.

Shuchat, 31, a former member of the crime patrol Shmira, allegedly struck Charles on the arm with a nightstick. There was no allegation of anyone making racial epithets.

Defense lawyer Paul Batista said prosecutors never provided him with any evidence that would support the hate crime charge.

“I think justice was done,” Batista said, “and it avoids a trial that would be extremely unpleasant for the Crown Heights community in which there would have been racial overtones and there certainly was no racism on the part of my client.”

Charles, who was 20 at the time of the attack and the son of an NYPD cop, had told authorities he was first attacked by a white man on a bicycle who doused him with pepper spray. Then, Shuchat arrived on the scene in an SUV and whacked him with the baton.


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