Joseph Kess, wearing a light blue shirt, who admitted on Thursday...

Joseph Kess, wearing a light blue shirt, who admitted on Thursday to harassing a same-sex couple during a Mother's Day attack in Patchogue in May, appears in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead. Credit: John Roca

A Patchogue man admitted Thursday to harassing a same-sex couple and calling the women “an abomination” during a Mother's Day attack in Patchogue last May in a plea agreement that assures his release from jail.

Joseph Kess, 41, pleaded guilty before acting State Supreme Court Justice Steven Pilewski in Riverhead to third-degree criminal mischief, a felony, and second-degree aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor, for the incident at Mascot Dock last May.

Kess will be sentenced to 6 months' incarceration, which he has already served, and 5 years' probation when he is sentenced April 18.

The hate-crime enhancement in the criminal mischief charge will be dropped and a lesser assault charge will also be covered as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said.

New York State defines a hate crime as one that targets a person, group or property because of bias against a list of “protected” characteristics including race, religion or sexual orientation. The state’s Hate Crimes Act steps up penalties for certain specified offenses when they are found to be motivated by bias. Kess faced the possibility of a longer sentence had he gone to trial and was convicted of a hate crime.

Kess and co-defendant Thomas Gair, 66, of Patchogue, attacked the women as they sat at a bench watching the sunset at the popular Patchogue location, prosecutors said following their arrests in 2023. Kess was charged in June, but Gair was not arrested for two more months.

Gair, who pleaded guilty last October and was sentenced to probation, repeatedly punched both women and Kess allegedly urinated on their vehicle, threw beer cans at them, threw one woman’s phone and sandals into the bay and then attempted to drag one woman into the water, according to prosecutors.

"[Did you] pull her body across the dock to within inches of Patchogue Bay and then shout 'I'll [expletive] drown you,' ” Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Patrick Fedun asked during Thursday's proceeding.

“Yes,” Kess said.

Kess also admitted telling the women they wouldn't last as a couple and shouting “You need a man.”

The incident was captured on video by onlookers at the dock, prosecutors said.

Gair is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 27. While prosecutors had sought 1 to 3 years in prison, he is expected to be sentenced to probation, the district attorney's office announced in October.

Fedun told Pilewski the women who were attacked are satisfied with the disposition of both cases. The men also signed orders of protection to stay away from the couple.

The judge told Kess Thursday that he must cooperate with the probation department as it prepares its presentencing report. He is also to refrain from consuming alcohol and will be subject to GPS monitoring as he awaits sentencing.

Kess' defense attorney, Scott Zerner, of Manhattan, declined to comment.

Kess was expected to be released from the county jail in Yaphank Thursday evening.

Prosecutors previously said Kess has a long arrest history, including convictions for driving while intoxicated and criminal contempt in 2019, criminal possession of a weapon in 2014 and resisting arrest in 2011.

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