Joseph Caleca faces 25 years in prison for attack on Sandeep Singh.
NEW YORK: A man who racially abused a Sikh man in Queens, New York, Sandeep Singh, 29, and then ran him over with his truck last July 30, has been indicted on hate crime charges, after he was charged with attempted murder and felony assault.
A Queens County grand jury returned an indictment against Joseph Caleca, 55, of Setauket, on Wednesday, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office, reported CBS.
“The defendant is accused of an unprovoked attack that allegedly began with the defendant driving by the victim and his friends and calling him a terrorist and ordering him to leave the country,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a news release. “After an exchange of words, the defendant allegedly struck the victim intentionally with his vehicle and dragged him along the street.”
Caleca was arraigned Wednesday on the nine-count indictment. He was remanded on continuing bail afterward, and is next due in court April 22, prosecutors said. Caleca could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Caleca was behind the wheel of his pickup truck at 99th Street and 101st Avenue in Ozone Park, Queens, when he got into a verbal argument with 29-year-old Sandeep Singh because Singh’s car door was blocking the street, police said.
Police said Caleca allegedly got out of his vehicle to confront Singh and his friends. Singh told police that Caleca called him a terrorist and shouted “bin Laden, go back to your country” before mowing him down, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
“A man in a truck had called him a terrorist and told him to go back to his country,” the victim’s wife, Prabhurpreet Kaur, said earlier this month. “When Sandeep protested, the man ran him over, dragged him 30 feet under the truck and left him to die.”
Authorities say the driver hit Singh in Ozone Park just after midnight on July 30, dragging the victim for 50 feet. Eyewitnesses say the driver ran down Singh after yelling a racial slur following an argument.
Investigators made the arrest after gathering information on vehicles that were in the area at the time of the incident, said the report, according to a n earlier report by Eyewitness News.
Singh was treated at Jamaica Hospital for abdominal and back injuries. Brown said Singh had to undergo surgery to stem internal bleeding.