Two members of the Orthodox Jewish community’s Shomrim security patrol who copped a plea deal to avoid a prison sentence for beating an apparently innocent gay black man are now refusing to even perform the community service assigned to them — because it would be in a “culturally diverse neighborhood.’’
Pinchas Braver, 22, and Abraham Winkler, 42, confessed to participating with other Shomrim members in the beating of fashion student Taj Patterson while he was walking down a Williamsburg street in December 2013. As noted by the New York Post, the victim was beaten so thoroughly that he ended up with a broken orbital socket and torn retina, rendering him permanently blind in one eye.
Braver, Winkler and a third Shomrim member were charged by authorities with gang hate crime, which can mean the imposition of a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
In their plea deal, Braver and Winkler had agreed to plead guilty to the lesser crime of unlawful imprisonment in exchange for three years’ probation, which requires them to pay $1,400 in restitution and perform 150 hours of community service in a “culturally diverse neighborhood.’’
But in a sudden change of heart, the men are now attempting to alter their obligations under the deal to their particular personal benefit. This past week, the two appeared in court in Brooklyn, declaring that they want to volunteer only at Chai Lifeline, an organization that caters to the special needs of Jewish children with serious illness.
In response, prosecutors requested that the men’s sentencing be delayed so that they could take sufficient time to conduct an evaluation of Chai Lifeline, which describes itself as an organization dedicated to offering “a number of services for Jewish children with life-threatening illness.”
While there were actually a total of five defendants originally charged in the brutal beating, the charges against two of them — Aharon Hollender and Joseph Fried — were dropped in 2014 and 2015. Remaining defendant Mayer Herskovic, 24, has chosen to face a trial. He is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 23.
The group was accused of attacking Patterson, then 22, without any provocation, as he was leaving a party at approximately 5 A.M. They allegedly ordered him to drop to his knees and shouted anti-gay slurs before stomping and kicking him.
Responding broadly, Patterson filed a lawsuit against the city and the NYPD in June, charging that the Shomrim have been given “favorable and preferential treatment” by city authorities for years. He alleges in the court papers that the investigation into his assault was compromised after influential Shomrim members interceded in the case by making special phone calls to the 90th Precinct.
In a surprising sidebar, Braver was actually given a tour of the 19th Precinct after his attack on Patterson. The precinct was then operated by since-disgraced ex-NYPD Deputy Chief James Grant, who was subsequently indicted on charges of conspiracy, bribery and fraud for allegedly accepting payoffs from Jewish businessmen.