QUEENS — A Rego Park man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of attempted murder as a hate crime for stabbing a man in a Pomonok mosque, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Wednesday.
Bernhard Laufer, 59, followed Bashir Ahmad into the Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque at 72-55 Kissena Blvd. on Nov. 18, 2012.
He then brutally attacked Ahmad, stabbing him in the head, back, leg and hand, as well as biting his nose which left Ahmad with permanent scars, the DA’s office said.
“The defendant in this case waged a war of terror against this mosque,” Brown said in a statement, adding that two days before the attack Laufer smashed the front door of the house of worship with a stone.
For two days prior to the attack, he also repeatedly called the mosque and threatened to kill all Muslims, leaving several messages on an answering machine.
Investigators traced the calls back to his Laufer’s home at 99-68 65th Road, according to the Queens DA. DNA found on glasses he dropped at the scene also matched Laufer.
“Crimes fueled by hate will never be tolerated in Queens County — the most diverse urban area in the entire nation,” Brown said.
Laufer, who was also found guilty of assault as a hate crime, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief at his trial last month, will be placed on five years post-release supervision after serving his sentence, the DA's office said.
His lawyer, Alexander Eisemann, who argued that Laufer suffered from various mental illnesses, said Wednesday that his client planned to appeal the conviction and the sentence, which he said was "clearly excessive, higher than even the prosecution had requested."
He also said that the court restricted Laufer in his ability to develop "a full defense."
Laufer was deemed fit to stand trial in March 2015 following a psychiatric evaluation conducted in 2014, according to court records.