QUEENS — A Rego Park man is facing up to 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of attempted murder as a hate crime for stabbing a man in a Pomonok mosque, the Queens District Attorney announced Monday.
Bernhard Laufer, 59, followed Bashir Ahmad into the Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque at 72-55 Kissena Blvd. early in the morning on Nov. 18, 2012 and brutally attacked the then-57-year-old man, stabbing him in the head, back, leg and hand.
“Crimes fueled by hate will never be tolerated here in Queens County — the most diverse urban area in the entire nation,” Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement.
“A jury weighed all the evidence in this case and within hours convicted the defendant of a hate crime for the vicious attempted murder of a Muslim man. The defendant has proven himself a danger to society and warrants a lengthy incarceration.”
Laufer, who lived at 99-68 65th Rd., first vandalized the mosque on Nov. 16, 2012, after smashing the front door with a stone.
He then left several threatening messages on the mosque’s answering machine later that day and then on the following day.
Investigators traced the calls back to his Laufer’s home and DNA found on glasses left at the scene also matched the defendant, according to the DA.
The Rego Park man was also found guilty on Friday of assault as a hate crime, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief.
He is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Barry Schwartz in Queens Supreme Court on Dec. 14.
His lawyer, Alexander Eisemann, had previously argued that Laufer suffered from mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, for more than 35 years, according to a New York Daily News report.
A psychiatric evaluation was conducted in 2014 and Laufer was deemed fit to stand trial in March, 2015, according to court records.
"We're disappointed by the jury's verdict convicting this mentally-ill man of offenses that were driven solely by his delusions but we are confident that this miscarriage of justice will be remedied on appeal," Eisemann told DNAinfo New York in an email.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced he was creating a special unit to investigate the growing number of hate crimes across the state.