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Two Sentenced in Federal Hate Crime Prosecution

July 20, 2010

One of the goals of NASABA is to work with the South Asian-American community at large to secure our rights as Americans. One way we do that is to ensure that civil rights laws are properly enforced. We applaud SABA Northern California for their work in helping bring about the prosecution of a California couple who brutally attacked an Indian-American couple on the basis of their national origin.

On July 14, 2007, San Franciscans Vishal Wadhwa and his wife  Sunita Sohrabji were brutally attacked by a Fairfield, California couple yelling racial epithets along the shore of Lake Tahoe. Mr. Wadhwa spent time in the hospital after suffering facial fractures requiring surgery.

After a modest prosecution in by local authorities, SABA-NC and other South Asian groups sought federal prosecution under hate crime statutes.  U.S. Attorney for the E.D. Cal., Benjamin B. Wagner, took up the case and brought a federal action against the attackers in U.S. District Court. On June 29, 2010,  Judge John A. Mendez sentenced the couple to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Upon learning of the sentences, U.S. Attorney Wagner said, “Bias motivated violence has no place in our society. Vigorously enforcing federal hate crime laws is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice. We will protect the rights of all persons in this richly diverse community to avail themselves of public facilities without fear of hate mongers and racists.”

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