Two teens plead not guilty in Patchogue hate crime case

Curt Hatton, 19, left, and Matthew J. Mont, Curt Hatton, 19, left, and Matthew J. Mont, 16, leave the Suffolk Fifth Precinct in Patchogue for arraignment in Central Islip Criminal Court on charges of attacking a Hispanic man on Division Street in Patchogue on Aug. 15. (August 26, 2009) Click here to read more about this case Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Two Suffolk teenagers accused of beating an Ecuadorean man in Patchogue, just steps from where his countryman Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death late last year, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a felony hate crime.

Curt J. Hatton, 19, of Islip, and Matthew J. Mont, 16, of Patchogue, were arrested Tuesday and appeared at separate arraignments in First District Court in Central Islip, where they were charged with assault as a bias crime. Each was held on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. Another man accused of participating in the Aug. 15 attack, Ramon Rodriguez, 20, of Patchogue, was arrested last week and held on the same bail.

The alleged beating comes nine months after and around the corner from where Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was beaten and fatally stabbed in November near Patchogue's Long Island Rail Road station. That case drew national attention to ethnic bias against Suffolk's growing Latino immigrant community and sparked an ongoing federal investigation into local hate crimes.

In the most recent incident, a 22-year-old Ecuadorean man told detectives he was walking on Division Street, just south of the LIRR station, shortly before midnight when three men in the parking lot of Kappler's Bar called out to him, said Suffolk police Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone. After one of the three beckoned the victim over, they had a brief, friendly talk before someone punched him in the face, Varrone said.

"The other men jump in, they strike him, they kick him, they punch him," he said. Criminal complaints filed against the three say they called him "a -- Mexican" during the attack.

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The man walked, bleeding and sobbing, to the train station without shirt and shoes; a person waiting there for a train called police. The man, who works as a day laborer, was treated for cuts and bruises at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center and released, police said.

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A Suffolk grand jury will hear the case today. There have been three other bias incidents in Patchogue targeting Latinos since the Lucero homicide, according to Suffolk police. All involved allegations of ethnically-charged taunts or threats; none resulted in arrests.

At his arraignment, Hatton was supported by a family member but did not speak. He is represented by attorney David Besso of Bay Shore, who did not return messages Wednesday. The attorney at his arraignment, Albert Norato, declined to comment. Mont's attorney, Laurence Silverman of Huntington, was not available.

With Sumathi Reddy

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