April 2, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
The manager of a Jackson Heights tattoo parlor, who allegedly used homophobic slurs before getting into a physical altercation with a gay couple last year, pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree last week, according to the DA.
Mohammed Hoque, 26, attacked customer Jeremy Valarezo and his husband Joseph Sokolowski after they refused to have their ID scanned while trying to buy a pipe from Village Moon Tattoo Shop, located at 78-01 Roosevelt Ave., with a credit card on Nov. 3, 2018.
An argument between Hoque and the couple was partially caught on video by Sokolowski, where Hoque can be heard saying ““get your bull—-, f–t a—s, out of here” among several other profanities exchanged between the two.
WATCH: Village Moon tattoo parlor manager calls local residents, a married gay couple, “faggots” then punches one of them. We will not let this stand! Queens must remain a safe place for LGBTQ+ people.
Anti-hate rally tomorrow, 10am. pic.twitter.com/be9ejHPn3u
— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) January 21, 2019
According to Valarezo, Hoque then allegedly punched him in the face before following Sokolowski outside to attack him too.
Hoque said that the attack came after Sokolowski spit in his face and knocked down the store’s mannequin for requiring the ID scan.
Both Sokolowski and Hoque were arrested at the time, according to police, with Hoque charged with two counts of assault while Sokolowski, who was originally charged with a felony “based on the value of the mannequin”, ultimately got charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree.
The incident caught the attention of several local officials, including Council Member Daniel Dromm, who held an anti hate rally in January near the parlor calling on the DA to classify this assault as a hate crime.
“The use of the F-t word will no longer be tolerated or no longer be let go without some type of a community response,” Dromm said at the rally. “This is not acceptable in our community.”
Ultimately, Hoque pleaded guilty in court on March 27 to assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree.
Hoque’s transgressions were not classified as a hate crime, according to the DA’s office, but he has agreed to attend anger management and sensitivity training.
“The case was thoroughly investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force,” said a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
“Our office consulted at length with the attorneys for both sides, as there were cross criminal complaints in regards to the incident. All defendants agreed with the disposition of the case, which included anger management and sensitivity training.”
Judge Karina Alomar has directed Hoque to return to court May 28 to be sentenced.
Sokolowski, who was charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree, will appear in court again on April 19 where his charges are likely to be dismissed, according to a spokesperson for the DA.