White woman charged with hate crime
The woman charged with chucking a glass bottle and yelling a racial epithet at a jogger in Queens last month was held on $2,500 bail Tuesday.
Lorena Delaguna was caught on video Aug. 17 allegedly throwing a bottle at Tiffany Johnson — a black woman who passed Delaguna while she was jogging in Woodside midday, officials said.
Delaguna also called Johnson the N-word and told her to get out of here and go back to Africa, prosecutors allege. Then, Delaguna followed Johnson for a block yelling and threatening her, prosecutors claim.
The 53-year-old Woodside woman was busted Monday and charged with attempted assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Delaguna appeared by video Tuesday for a Queens criminal court arraignment with disheveled blond hair wearing a white blouse and a blue medical mask.
During the hearing, Queens assistant district attorney Michael Brovner asked a judge to set bail for Delaguna at $40,000 — noting that she has recent convictions, open bench warrants, a history of skipping court dates and three open criminal cases against her.
Brovner also said that one of her prior cases is for stealing cash from a man and “when [the man] tried to get the money back from her she bit his hand.”
“There is every reason to think she will not return [to court],” Brovner said. “She has a history of warrants. The case is exceptionally strong. She was caught on video doing this crime. She has three or four prior misdemeanor convictions.”
Delaguna’s lawyer, Samantha Diaz, asked for her client to be released with supervision.
“The fact that she is alleged to have thrown a bottle without making any contact — I don’t believe that harm has been demonstrated in the instant case,” Diaz said during the video hearing.
But Judge Jeffrey Gershuny said that people can harm others even if not physically.
“Harm does not have to be cuts and scratches. It can be financial, harassment or threatening,” Gershuny said.
“In this case, where a defendant is alleged to have thrown a glass bottle at someone, so close to them that they felt the contents of the bottle spray upon them and then be allegedly yelled at certain racial epithets…be threatened and be followed — I find that is a harm that is directed at a certain individual,” Gershuny said.
“So I do think that the case is bail eligible,” the judge said setting bond at $5,000 and bail at $2,500.
Gershuny also noted that Delaguna has a history of mental-health issues which should be addressed at her next court date Friday.
“Crimes like this, which are fueled by hate, are in a special category for a reason,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “No one should have to endure being called a vile slur or being attacked simply because of the color of their skin, their religion, or who they love.”
It was not immediately clear if Delaguna would post bail.