Long Beach man rebuked by judge over racial incident
A Long Beach man got a tongue-lashing about his temper Wednesday from a judge who sentenced him to 3 years probation for menacing two black golfers and using racial insults on a golf course at Eisenhower Park earlier this year.
Grant Smith, 49, had been charged with assault and assault as a hate crime after the incident April 9, but pleaded guilty to reduced charges of attempted assault and aggravated harassment. He was sentenced to probation by Judge Meryl Berkowitz in Nassau County Court.
The judge said Smith had anger problems "that you have to resolve" and warned him to keep out of trouble during his probation. She noted that he had a 2009 conviction for misdemeanor assault.
"If you come back before me because of any criminal activity, I will lock you up. Do you understand me?" Berkowitz asked. Smith nodded his head and said, "Yes."
Prosecutors said they agreed to reduced charges in part because Smith had agreed to undergo anger management treatment.
Police at the time said the incident began on the third hole of the White Course at Eisenhower Park when Smith, who was playing alone, made "rude comments" to the two black men, both of whom are in their 60s.
Two holes later, Smith, who is white, "yelled out racial slurs while assaulting and menacing the victims," according to court papers.
Smith offered no explanation during his sentencing, but told arresting officers that the two men "came at me first."
One of the golfers, a Freeport resident, said a few days after the incident that he exchanged words with a golfer playing alone behind them.
They exchanged words and, at the fifth hole, "I did something I guess I shouldn't have. I gave him the finger," the man said.
Smith struck the other man with his golf club, breaking off the head, and threatened to stab and kill the men with the shaft, according to a police report.
The district attorney's office said Wednesday that prosecutors had spoken to the victims and they had no objection to the plea bargain.