By Cassidy Klein
KEW GARDENS — A 23-year-old Woodside man who pleaded guilty last month to second-degree assault as a hate crime following an attack on an MTA employee in June 2018 was sentenced Monday to three and a half years in prison, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
According to the charges, at approximately 9:20 p.m. on June 18 at the Forest Hills Station, MTA train conductor Keith Simon spotted the defendant sleeping on the train as he did a walk through. He woke the defendant, Meher Kalam, of 65th Street, and told him he had to exit the train.
Kalam then yelled racial slurs and proceeded to push Simon toward a slowly-approaching train, according to the charges. He punched the conductor in the face, and when Simon tried to restrain the defendant he was repeatedly punched in the stomach.
“This was a vicious, unprovoked attack on an MTA worker who was just doing his job,” said Brown. “This kind of violence — especially motivated by hate and prejudice — will not be tolerated in Queens County. Our MTA workers interact with the public every day and do an outstanding job. They deserve courtesy and to be safe on the job. This defendant is going to jail as a result of his animus and this senseless act of violence.”
Kalam pleaded guilty before Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Schwartz Sept. 17, which led to Monday’s sentencing.
— Cassidy Klein