Photo by Michael Shain
Flushing resident Key Lee faces five years in prison after admitting to two hate crimes last year.
By Gina Martinez

A Flushing man has pleaded guilty to two hate crimes after telling police “I don’t like Chinese people,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Korean national Key S. Lee, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery as a hate crime in connection with two separate attacks on Chinese women who were robbed and assaulted last year.

DA Brown said that in pleading guilty Lee had admitted to attacking two Asian women because of his hatred for Chinese people.

“The defendant, who is Korean, spotted each woman when she was alone in public and pounced upon them – punching them in the face and then stealing their cash and credit cards,” he said. “This kind of bigotry and hate are not acceptable in a civilized society and will not be tolerated in Queens County. The defendant’s guilty plea is another example of our refusal to accept this type of behavior.”

According to the charges, on Jan. 27, 2016 Ling Chou was cleaning snow from her car following a snowstorm when she noticed the Lee standing on a nearby corner smoking a cigarette. Chou ignored Lee and continued to clear the snow on her car, but when she opened the back door, Lee suddenly rushed her and pushed her into the back seat, the charges said. Lee covered her body with his and closed the door behind him, then began repeatedly punching her in the face. Lee then grabbed her purse, stealing a credit card, her ID and $2,000 in cash, then he fled the scene, the charges said.

When Lee was shown surveillance video of the incident, the complaint said, he admitted to police that he was the attacker and that he had robbed Chou. Lee also said he was angry after an argument with his wife and that he used to work as a cab driver and the majority of his customers were Chinese. “I wanted to fight someone because the Chinese people were rude and smoking in the car…I wanted to pick a fight and that is when I saw one female cleaning snow and we made eye contact,” Lee told the police, according to the complaint.

Lee said he became even more angry when he made eye contact with Chou and said he “couldn’t take it any more. I decided she’s the one. I started beating her,” the complaint said.

Brown said the second attack took place a few weeks later on Feb. 10, 2016. Lee spotted Ziao Feng as she was walking to her apartment building and he pounced on her, the charges said. Lee began punching Feng’s face and then ran off with her handbag, which contained her credit cards, ID and about $2,000 in cash, the charges said.

The DA said Lee told police he was driving home when Feng cut him off in traffic and failed to signal, so he followed her. When she parked her car, he continued to follow her on foot and then attacked her. He told officers, “I don’t like the Chinese and I went to Flushing to look for Chinese people,” Brown said.

Lee’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec.18 when he faces five years in prison to be followed by five years’ post-release supervision.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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