A person can be guilty of a hate crime even if the violence is directed at a building rather than a person, New York's top court ruled Tuesday.
The Court of Appeals unanimously said the stricter penalties imposed for such crimes apply to a man convicted of trying to bomb a Bronx synagogue in 2000.
"It is self-evident that, although the target of the defendant's criminal conduct was a building, the true victims were the individuals of Jewish faith who were members of the synagogue," Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote. She upheld rulings by the trial court and a midlevel court on a state statute enacted in 2000.
"The evidence in this case proved that defendant committed an attempted arson of the synagogue because of his anger toward a particular religious group," Graffeo wrote.
The attacker, 30-year-old Mazin Assi, is serving five to 15 years in prison.