Man Accused of Mugging Asians Charged With Robbery and Burglary

By Ben Fractenberg on February 1, 2013 7:41pm | Updated on February 4, 2013 9:41am

DOWNTOWN — The man accused of beating and robbing eight people of Asian descent in East Harlem was arraigned on one of the attacks Friday — but has not yet been charged with the other incidents or hate crime charges while investigators continue to look into the incidents, officials said.

Jason Commisso, 34, was extradited back to New York City after being caught on a bus traveling along the New Jersey Turnpike. He was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Friday on charges of felony burglary and robbery stemming from a single attack on Jan. 24, when prosecutors said he followed an Asian woman into an elevator at 1641 Madison Ave. shortly before 9 a.m., beat her, and stole her wallet and cellphone.

Police said Commisso followed his eight victims — all of whom were Asian — into elevators before attacking them, and then used the money to buy drugs, sources said.

Officials are still investigating the other seven attacks, and could charge him with those incidents at a later date, they said. Investigators are also looking into whether hate crime charges are warranted, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said Friday.

During the Jan. 24 incident, Commisso allegedly follwed the woman into an elevator, waited for the doors to close, and then began to "repeatedly strike her in the face with his closed fist," according to court papers.

The woman suffered a broken cheekbone, two lacerations to her eye and a laceration to her chin, the complaint said.

After the alleged attack, she found that her credit cards and cell phone were missing, according to the criminal complaint.

A woman who had walked out of the elevator just before the mugging occurred said she "heard a woman screaming" once the doors closed.

Commisso's attack spree allegedly continued until Jan. 26, when he robbed a 57-year-old Asian man in an East 97th Street elevator and broke his nose, police said.

He is due back in court Wednesday.

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