Friday, March 17, 2017
It's four years for an eye.
A Brooklyn judge sentenced a Hasidic Jewish man to four years in prison for participating in a vicious beatdown that left a gay black man blind in one eye.
Mayer Herskovic was not the only person who assaulted Taj Patterson on Flushing Ave. in December 2013. But he's the only attacker getting prison time.
"Those who stomped and chased (Patterson) did try to injure him. The defendant was involved, he participated and was found guilty for that," said Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
Cop: We used trick to get video of Hasidic men beating victim
Patterson, 25, did not attend the court proceedings in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday — he previously said he wants to move on with his life.
Nonetheless, the lasting effects of the senseless attack will remain with him.
"Mr. Patterson asked himself why all this happened to him and he concluded it's because he was a young black male in a predominately Orthodox neighborhood," Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough said on behalf of the victim.
According to trial testimony, Patterson was walking to his Fort Greene home when men — some belonging to the Williamsburg Shomrim, a Jewish patrol group — began chasing after him. The attackers mistook him for the suspect in a car vandalism streak, prosecutors previously said.
"This defendant, that group and the community couldn't see him as an individual, but as a criminal," said Gough, who recommended Herskovic receive five years in prison.
Video surveillance showed men chasing Patterson for blocks. One person with a walkie-talkie was identified at trial as Yoelli (Joel) Itzkowitz, but he was not questioned for his role in the attack.
One of Patterson's lawyers has urged the Brooklyn DA's office to indict Itzkowitz, alleging prosecutors have overlooked Itzkowitz because his brother is the politically connected coordinator of the Williamsburg Shomrim.
Four men in addition to Herskovic were charged in the beating. Two of the cases were dismissed and two of the attackers took plea deals sentencing them to 150 hours of community service each.
"Amongst all participants who stomped and beat Mr. Patterson, this defendant wasn't the most culpable," Chun said of Herskovic. "Mr. Patterson was chased for blocks, but not by the defendant before me."
Prosecutors placed Herskovic at the scene thanks to DNA found on one of Patterson's sneakers that was thrown to the roof of a nearby building.
The "deeply scarred" Patterson asked the judge to sentence Herskovic to the maximum of 15 years in prison for the second-degree gang assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.
"When Patterson woke up in the hospital, he didn't know where he was. He was upset, frightened and alone," said Gough.
The victim has had surgery three times, but he'll never regain eyesight in his right eye.
"I wish I can take back what happened to Mr. Patterson all those years ago ... I hope he finds peace for all he has suffered and endured," Herskovic told the judge as he pleaded for a lenient sentence.
"I'm 24, my life is about family, helping people," he added. "I work as a construction worker. I work with all kinds of people, black, white, Hispanic, gay and not gay."
Nevertheless, his lawyer Stuart Slotnick asserted outside of court that "the DNA evidence was completely and totally flawed."
Slotnick has asked an appellate judge to release his client until a decision is made on his appeal. Herskovic has been out on a $150,000 bond since the conviction in September.
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