A Staten Island man is facing hate crime charges after prosecutors say he and two teens attacked and robbed an 18-year-old man born without arms.
Vicnent Popalardo, 20, was indicted on charges of robbery as a hate crime and assault as a hate crime in connection with the Nov. 30 robbery and attack on the man.
Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said that Popalardo and the teens targeted the victim because he didn't have arms.
"All crimes are unacceptable, but those committed against an individual because of his or her disability are particularly despicable," he said.
The Staten Island Advance reports that the victim was identified as 18-year-old Carlos Simon. He told the newspaper that he was waiting outside a Dunkin' Donuts on Forest Avenue when the three alleged robbers approached and demanded cash before stealing his cellphone from a ledge and rifling through his pockets.
He said the two teens restrained him as he tried to get his phone back.
Popolardo was arrested in Erie, Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, and was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bond.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, the Advance reports.
Simon, a college freshman who hopes to become an art teacher, told the Advance at the time of the attack that many people reached out hoping to donate phones or money for a new phone, but he felt strange about it.
"I feel weird taking money," he told the newspaper. "My mom works hard and I don't want her to feel like these donations signify that she can't provide for me."