A Long Beach man whose videotaped rant against a black woman on the LIRR went viral has been charged with menacing as a hate crime, the Queens district attorney said Wednesday.
Edward Ruggiero, 58, approached a Lynbrook woman on April 19 as she talked on her cellphone somewhere between the Forest Hills and Jamaica stations, and threatened to smack her with his raised hand, prosecutors said.
“Get off at Jamaica. Get off in the ghetto,” Ruggiero shouted at the woman, officials said. He then began to imitate the sounds of a monkey and yelled other racial slurs, authorities said.
Ruggiero, of East Penn Street, was arraigned Wednesday night on charges of third-degree menacing as a hate crime and second-degree aggravated harassment, both misdemeanors. He was released on his own recognizance. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
His attorney did not comment and relatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
The video went viral earlier this month after it was posted on social media. It shows a man in his seat shouting at someone behind him, off camera.
“The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society — especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation,” District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a news release. “No one should be subjected to the vile words and intimidating actions the defendant is accused of tormenting the victim with. Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably, occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”
Ruggiero was taken into custody after an investigation by MTA police.