By Jeremy Walsh
A Jackson Heights man has pleaded guilty to assault as a hate crime in a 2007 attack on another man he suspected of being Russian, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Andy Acosta, 20, admitted Tuesday to stabbing 25-year-old Oltion Mala while making anti-Russian remarks. He is expected to be sentenced to eight years in prison and five years of supervised release at his next court date Jan. 22.
“The defendant targeted the victim because he thought he was of Russian heritage,” Brown said in a statement. “Clearly this is not acceptable in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation. Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here. When they do regrettably occur, they will be condemned in the strongest possible terms and those responsible will be brought to justice to answer for their actions.”
At 9:10 a.m. May 14, 2007, Mala, 25, was walking near 32-16 Crescent St. in Long Island City as Acosta and some four other people approached him, Brown said.
With no provocation, Acosta called Mala “You f—— Russian.”
When Mala, who is of Albanian descent, asked what the problem was, Acosta pulled out a knife, Brown said.
Mala told him to stop playing and began to walk away, but Acosta again shouted the slur. Mala told him not to say that, causing Acosta and another man to punch and hit him.
Mala broke free, but Acosta chased him into a nearby building, where he stabbed Mala twice on his left and right side, three times on his forearm and once in the hand.
Mala suffered a punctured lung, which caused a blood clot to form. Acosta’s blade also pierced completely through Mala’s forearm. He was admitted to the hospital in critical condition, but made a full recovery, the DA’s office said.
The plea marked the second high-profile hate crime case within a month in Queens. In November, two Woodside men were indicted on hate crime charges for allegedly assaulting a transgender woman in Jackson Heights while shouting out anti-gay slurs.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.