Four Staten Island men who went on a hate spree after President Obama’s historic election victory in November have just been sentenced to time behind bars by a Brooklyn federal judge.
Brian Carranza, 21, Ralph Nicoletti, 19, Michael Contreras, 19, and Bryan Garaventa, 18, set out to beat up black people in Staten Island on the night of November 4, 2008, because they believed the victims had voted for the president, federal prosecutors said.
That night, Nicoletti drove the group to the predominantly black neighborhood of Park Hill and set out to attack Obama voters. Nicoletti struck one teenager with a pipe and Garaventa hit him a collapsible police baton.
They later assaulted another man in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island, and then a third individual who was mistaken for African-American, prosecutors said. Nicoletti drove his car into that victim, causing him get knocked onto the hood and hit the windshield, sustaining serious injuries.
Investigators said the men beat their victims while screaming "Obama!"
U.S. District Judge Carol B. Amon sentenced Nicoletti to nine years’, Carranza to five and half years', Garaventa to five years', and Contreras to four and a half years' jail time. All four had been charged with federal hate crimes.
“By their own admission these defendants, motivated by racial hatred and a desire to punish those they believed had voted for Barack Obama, participated in violent attacks that nearly killed one of their victims,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Joseph Demarest Jr. of the New York Field Office. “Free exercise of the right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy, and a fundamental civil right that the FBI will always safeguard vigorously.”