Two Boston brothers accused of urinating on and beating a homeless Mexican man have been charged with hate crimes after being quoted by police as saying, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said on Friday a grand jury had brought the new charges against Scott Leader, 38, and Steve Leader, 30, arrested on Aug. 19 on suspicion of beating 58-year-old Guillermo Rodriguez as he slept in a subway station.
Trump, a candidate for the Republican U.S. presidential nomination, has been vocal on immigration, proposing to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and promising to deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States if elected.
The brothers were initially charged with assault and battery for the purpose of intimidation because of national origin. A grand jury on Thursday charged each with one count of civil rights violations while causing bodily injury.
The new charges mean they face an additional possible 10 years in state prison if convicted and moves their forthcoming trial to Suffolk Superior Court, rather than the lower-level Dorchester Superior Court where they had initially been charged.
A police report released at the time ascribed to them the quote about Trump.
Prosecutors said Scott Leader told arresting officers that the two had “tuned up” an “illegal immigrant” and that he believed the attack was justified because the victim was homeless and Hispanic.
The pair also allegedly threatened police officers while in custody.
Trump, a real estate developer and reality television personality, initially described the attack as an outcome of passionate views on immigration but later called it “terrible.”
Daniel Hernandez Joseph, the consul general of Mexico in Boston, said the attack illustrated the importance of keeping political language civil.
“Political rhetoric has consequences and this is clearly an example,” Hernandez Joseph said. “People need to remain responsible for the consequences of their statements, regardless of whether that was their intention.”
Rodriguez, who is in the United States legally, is still in Massachusetts and recovering from his injuries, Hernandez Joseph said. He declined to provide further details on the man’s condition.
Lawyers for the two accused men could not be reached for immediate comment.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Howard Goller)