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Ex-Con Punches Sanitation Worker After Traffic Dispute, Prosecutors Say

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 23, 2017 3:47pm

EMERSON HILL — An ex-con who spent time behind bars for a hate crime was arrested after punching a Department of Sanitation worker in the chest, prosecutors said.

Joseph Sweeney, 31, of Woodrow, Staten Island, was driving behind the on-duty Sanitation worker on Graves Street, near Brielle Avenue, on Jan. 5, a law enforcement source said.

The pair got into a argument over traffic and Sweeney punched him about 9 a.m., a source said.

Sweeney was arrested on Jan. 18 and charged with assault and harassment at his arraignment, the Staten Island District Attorney's office said.

His bail was set at $5,000 cash and he's due back in court on Tuesday, according to online court records.

Sweeney was previously arrested in 2009 after he and another man beat and robbed a Nicaraguan cook with a baseball bat while yelling "(expletive) Mexicans, this is my country," the Staten Island Advance reported.

He spent four years in prison on hate crime robbery charges and was released in 2014, according to the Department of Corrections.

Sweeney also spent more than a year behind bars for robbery in 2004, records show.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.