Thursday, March 19, 2015
One of five Hasidic men accused of a gang assault on a gay black man will have charges dropped Thursday after a witness failed to identify him in a lineup, the Daily News has learned.
Aharon Hollender, 29, was indicted nearly a year ago in the beatdown of Taj Patterson, 23, who lost vision in his right eye.
The single witness against Hollender, a member of the Jewish neighborhood patrol called Shomrim, failed to pick him out during an identification procedure early February, a source said.
As opposed to the other four charged in the December 2013 attack, the only man who fingered Hollender in a photo array was a stranger and not someone who knew him.
The other two eyewitnesses recognized the other arrestees from earlier encounters.
"We've claimed from the outset that Mr. Hollender did not commit any crime," his lawyer Michael Farkas said Wednesday. "We're very pleased that the district attorney's office made the right decision to dismiss the case."
A drunk Patterson was allegedly set upon by more than a dozen ultra-Orthodox men when walking home through the Satmar enclave in Williamsburg after a night of partying.
The onslaught was initially investigated as a bias attack due to allegations of homophonic epithets, but no hate crimes were filed against Hollender, Abraham Winkler, Mayer Herskovic, Pinchas Braver and Joseph Fried.
While the first two defendants were Shomrim members, the others have been described as "wannabes" who may have instigated the vigilante-style violence after suspecting Patterson vandalized cars, sources said.
A good Samaritan who stopped to help was the one who identified Hollender months later, but was unable to pick him out of a lineup - a mandatory measure any time the eyewitness and the suspect are strangers.
The case is expected to be tossed when all five defendants appear at a routine hearing Thursday. The dismissal is not expected to affect the cases against the remaining four.
The DA's office declined comment.
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