DA: Joseph Caleca charged with hate crimes after hitting, dragging Sandeep Singh in Queens

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A Setauket man who yelled "anti-Muslim" remarks at another man before running him over with his pickup truck in Queens is facing hate crime charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Joseph Caleca, 55, was arraigned Tuesday night on second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault charges as hate crimes and ordered held without bail.

Authorities said the attack occurred shortly after midnight on July 30 as Sandeep Singh, 29, of Valley Stream was getting out of his parked car in Ozone Park.

Singh, a Sikh, was blocking Caleca's way on 99th Street near 101st Street, prompting Caleca to yell at Singh and his three friends, police said.

Caleca shouted "Osama" and "Go back to your country," according to Queens prosecutors.

After parking his pickup and confronting the group, Caleca returned to his truck and drove head-on into Singh, prosecutors said.

After bumping Singh, prosecutors said, Caleca accelerated, running over the victim.

Singh, caught in the pickup's undercarriage, was dragged for several feet before his body became dislodged, authorities said. Caleca then allegedly sped away.

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital with injuries to his back and abdomen and abrasions, police said.

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Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Singh had to undergo surgery to stem internal bleeding.

Brown called Caleca's insults "vile" and said the man faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Caleca also was charged with leaving the scene of an injury accident. He did not enter a plea Tuesday, and his attorney could not be reached for comment afterward. He is due back in court Sept. 10.

According to the criminal complaint, Caleca admitted to police that he ran the victim over but denied that it was racially motivated.

Caleca asked if the victim was all right and said the last time he saw him the man was conscious, the detective in the case wrote in the complaint.


Prosecutors said police arrested Caleca on Monday after looking for his GMC Sierra pickup, and they said Singh's friends identified him in a lineup.

-- With Gary Dymski


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