A Syracuse man has pleaded guilty to felony hate-crime charges stemming from a brutal attack on a gay couple outside the New York State Fair in August.
Nicholas Ferlenda, 28, is expected to be sentenced to six months in jail, as well as five years of probation and diversity training, after agreeing to the plea bargain on Tuesday.
Ferlenda attacked the couple in the parking lot outside a Breaking Benjamin concert after one of the victims put his arm around the other. The drunken suspect hurled gay slurs and punched one of the victims in the face in an ordeal that lasted as long as 30 minutes, according to prosecutors. Ferlenda followed the men to their car and punched out a window as they attempted to leave.
From Syracuse.com: The two victims tried to escape the situation by walking and driving away, but Ferlenda followed them to keep up his attack, police said. Prosecutor Anthony Mangovski said the “unbelievable” hatred showed by Ferlenda rivaled that of crimes with more serious injuries, like stabbings or shootings. And Ferlenda’s rage was directed at two complete strangers, he said.
Mangovski told CNYCentral: “This is one of the vilest things we’ve seen. The amount of hate that man exhibited was absurd.”
After the couple reported the incident, police found Ferlenda screaming obscenities and covered in blood due to cuts from the car window. He initially faced 1-3 years in prison on the assault and criminal mischief charges, which were bumped up to felonies under New York’s hate crimes law.