Suspect in Brutal Attack Offered Plea for Six Month Sentence

By Hamodia Staff

Mahmoud Musa is pictured on the far left, Faisal Elezzi is pictured second from the left, Waseem Awawdeh is in the middle. (NYPD)

NEW YORK − The Manhattan DA offered Waseem Awawdeh, a suspect in a brutal unprovoked attack on Joseph Borgen in May, 2021, a plea deal which limit his incarceration to just six months.

Joseph Borgen, a Jewish man who was walking to a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan on May 20, 2021 when he was brutally attacked by a group of six Arab men who pummeled him and caused serious injuries. The attack took place during a time of tensions in Israel, and the attackers allegedly shouted antisemitic words while they beat Mr. Borgen.

Awawdeh was seen on video hitting Borgen, who was already being pummeled by five other men on the ground in front of 1604 Broadway, several times with a metal crutch.

Borgen suffered a concussion and a chipped tooth in the attack, and stated that he was afraid they would kill him as the attackers threatened him at the time.

According to a prosecutor at Awawdeh’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, Awawdeh showed no remorse at the time of his arrest and said he would do it again if he could.

Awawdeh was originally charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. Those charges would have carried a possible sentence of upwards of 10 years in prison.

Under the plea deal, the charges were reduced to Attempted Assault in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime (a class D felony), which in New York usually results in a three-to-seven-year sentence for a person found guilty at trial. If Awawdeh pleads guilty and forgoes trial a agrees to a waiver of appeal, he will be given a sentence of 6 months and 5 years post-release supervision.

In defending the deal, a spokesperson for Manhattan DA Bragg’s office claimed Awawdeh did not initiate the attack but rather was the sixth person to join and left before it was over. In addition, he is only charged with beating the victim with his crutch, but that he did not pepper-spray, punch or kick Borgen and that he has no prior convictions.

Two other defendants in the case, Mohammed Othman and Mahmoud Musa, were not offered any plea deal. They are both charged with Assault in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime (a class C felony), which has a minimum sentence 3 ½ years in state prison, maximum sentence of 15 years.

Another defendant, Faisal Elezzi, was offered a plea to Attempted Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime (a class A misdemeanor), with a sentencing condition of intensive programming.

“Antisemitic hate has no place in Manhattan and the Office is requiring felony hate crime pleas and incarceration for three men charged in connection to this despicable attack,” the statement said. “Our Hate Crimes Unit made these appropriately strong recommendations following a thorough investigation that illuminated facts, evidence, and varying levels of culpability among this group of individuals.”

Former NYS Assemblyman Dov Hikind decried the light sentence offered Awawdeh by saying, “DA Bragg believes that Jewish blood is cheap. DA Bragg is making a deal for six months for this hoodlum, this antisemite, this Jew Hater. It’s beyond comprehension for something like this to happen. What does DA Bragg not understand with antisemitism out of control in New York. The number is skyrocketing. Where is the justice for Joey Borgen? What kind of message does this send?”

NYC Councilman Kalman Yeger tweeted, “Open Season on Jews, encouraged by Manhattan DA.”

Councilman Jim Gennaro, who represents the 24th District in Queens which has a large Orthodox Jewish constituency, posted his objections on social media.

“I am outraged that Manhattan DA Alvin Braggs is offering the perpetrator of a horrific beating of a Jewish man in Midtown a mere six month sentence in a plea bargain for a despicable hate beased attack, and I am calling on Governor Hochul to remove him immediately. “

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