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The best part about ripping off old people is that a lot of the time, they don’t even know they’re getting ripped off.
However, it’s still illegal, and, believe it or not, technically is a hate crime — that’s according to Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, anyway.
Hynes has charged a 36-year-old Brooklyn man with a hate crime for allegedly ripping off an 81-year-old geezer to the tune of $350,000 in a mortgage scam that started when the elderly victim responded to an ad for debt assistance.
We won’t defend the suspect, Sal Lauria, for allegedly scamming a man in the twilight of his life, but a hate crime? Seriously?
According to Hynes, Lauria was working for a company that offered debt assistance for people who have trouble paying their mortgages. After the victim responded to one of the company’s ads, Lauria allegedly offered the victim a “streamlined mortgage” — all the elderly victim had to do was hand over his personal financial information to apply for the mortgage offered by Lauria.
Lauria then used the information to setup a false bank account in his name, and another in the victim’s. He then got a $350,000 reverse mortgage in the victim’s name and deposited the money into his own account — and now he’s charged with a hate crime.
Under New York state law, a person can be charged with a hate crime if they “intentionally select the person against whom the
offense is committed or intended to be committed in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race,
color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person.”
Technically, what Lauria’s alleged to have done qualifies as a hate crime — but it seems like a bit of a stretch for the Brooklyn D.A.
Hate-crime laws were adopted to dissuade people from doing things like dragging someone behind a truck just because they’re black — like the racist Texas hillbillies who murdered James Byrd in 1998 — or tying someone to a fence and torturing them just because they’re gay, like the monsters who killed Matthew Shepard, also in 1998.
The idea behind hate-crime laws is that they apply to crimes that are motivated by hate. In the case of Lauria, the motive appears to be cash,
not a hatred of senior citizens.
A spokesperson for Hynes assures the Voice that Lauria’s “crime was committed against this victim because he was elderly,” and therefore qualifies as a hate crime. However, in reality, it seems as though Hynes sees an opportunity to throw the book at
someone, and he’s gonna take it.
Lauria’s been hit with one count of second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime, the punishment for which can be up to 25 years in prison.
To put that into some sort of perspective, public masturbator/convicted killer Michael Mele yesterday was sentenced to 23 years in prison — and he killed someone.
We’ve reached out to Lauria to try and find out if he’s the anti-elderly monster the Brooklyn D.A. makes him out to be. We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.