Thursday, March 6, 2003

D.A. BROWN: BROOKLYN COUPLE AND ATTORNEY DAUGHTER CHARGED WITH FELONY ASSAULT IN BIAS-RELATED ATTACK OF QUEENS WOMAN AT BAYSIDE RESTAURANT

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today that a Brooklyn couple and their daughter, an attorney, have been charged with felony assault as a hate crime in a bias-related attack in January of a Queens woman at a Bayside restaurant.

District Attorney Brown said, “The defendants are alleged to have attacked the victim in an ugly altercation based on bias-related hate. According to the charges, the victim was subjected to a fusillade of derogatory and vile anti-Asian epithets, had a drink hurled in her face and her hair pulled and sustained physical injuries including bruises and abrasions after being beaten and thrown to the floor. Hate crimes threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens, inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. No hate crime will be tolerated in this county. They will be prosecuted and punished with appropriate severity.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as George Fortunato, 60, a legal consultant, and his wife, Jacqueline Fortunato, 58, of 2752 Arkansas Drive and their daughter, Annemarie Fortunato, 33, an attorney, of 445 Mayfair Drive South, all of Mill Basin, Brooklyn who have been charged with Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime and face up to four years in prison if convicted.

District Attorney Brown said the criminal charges allege that, on January 3, 2003 at about 10:30 p.m. at 201-10 Cross Island Parkway in Bayside, Queens, the three defendants attacked the victim, Connie Coleman, 45, also a restaurant patron, with intent to cause physical injury to her, pummeled her and threw her to the floor and caused physical injury to her.

The District Attorney said that the defendants were arrested yesterday as the result of a two-month investigation by the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force conducted by Detectives Raymond DelValle and Sharon Wright under the supervision of Inspector Dennis Blackman, HCTF Commanding Officer, and the overall supervision of Chief of Detectives, Chief George W. Brown.

Assistant District Attorney George J. Farrugia of the District Attorney’s Anti-Bias/Youth Gang Bureau is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Mariela Palomino Herring, Bureau Chief, Peter J. McCormack III, Deputy Bureau Chief, and Charles N. Walsh, Senior Trial Attorney, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Trials James Clark Quinn.

It should be noted that criminal charges are merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.