Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly speaks about a hate...

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly speaks about a hate crime arrest at a news briefing in Mineola on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Hate crime charges have been filed against a man who allegedly attacked a Hewlett homeowner on Sunday after stealing a flag from his home that blended elements of the U.S. and Israeli banners, Nassau County officials said.

Bechir Lehbeib, 26, of Jamaica, Queens, was charged Monday in Nassau District Court with robbery, assault and criminal mischief as hate crimes, according to court records.

Nassau Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Smith said Lehbeib “ripped down” the flag and a banner evincing support for Israel from a Steven Drive home. When the homeowner biked after him to confront him, Lehbeib allegedly hit him in the face. Then, Smith said, Lehbeib stomped on the flag, “making references that he was Palestinian and other statements that were threatening and biased in nature.”

Lehbeib pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday, according to court records. Bail was set at $50,000. He was represented by Nassau Legal Aid, which did not respond to a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

The state hate crime law upgrades the severity of the charges, turning the top charge of second-degree robbery from a C felony to a B felony. The longest possible jail time for a C felony is 15 years. The longest possible jail time for a B felony is 25 years. Under the hate crime law, the second-degree assault is charged as a C felony and criminal mischief, charged for property destruction, is upgraded from a misdemeanor to an E felony.

The number of hate crimes and hate incidents investigated by Nassau police increased from 61 in 2022 to 74 in 2023, according to data sent to Newsday by Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun.

Hate crime charges have been filed against a man who allegedly attacked a Hewlett homeowner on Sunday after stealing a flag from his home that blended elements of the U.S. and Israeli banners, Nassau County officials said.

Bechir Lehbeib, 26, of Jamaica, Queens, was charged Monday in Nassau District Court with robbery, assault and criminal mischief as hate crimes, according to court records.

Nassau Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Smith said Lehbeib “ripped down” the flag and a banner evincing support for Israel from a Steven Drive home. When the homeowner biked after him to confront him, Lehbeib allegedly hit him in the face. Then, Smith said, Lehbeib stomped on the flag, “making references that he was Palestinian and other statements that were threatening and biased in nature.”

Lehbeib pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday, according to court records. Bail was set at $50,000. He was represented by Nassau Legal Aid, which did not respond to a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

The state hate crime law upgrades the severity of the charges, turning the top charge of second-degree robbery from a C felony to a B felony. The longest possible jail time for a C felony is 15 years. The longest possible jail time for a B felony is 25 years. Under the hate crime law, the second-degree assault is charged as a C felony and criminal mischief, charged for property destruction, is upgraded from a misdemeanor to an E felony.

The number of hate crimes and hate incidents investigated by Nassau police increased from 61 in 2022 to 74 in 2023, according to data sent to Newsday by Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun.

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