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Tattoo Parlor Manager Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Gay Couple, No Hate Crime Charges: DA

Jeremy Valarezo and Joseph Sokolowski at a press conference in January demanding that hate crime charges be brought against a Jackson Heights store manager. (Photo: Meghan Sackman)

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.

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.

Village Moon at 78-01 Roosevelt Ave. (Photo: Meghan Sackman)

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3 Comments

JHeights my whole life

Danny Dromm stop trying to portray this incident as a hate crime. This was a small business owner who got ripped off by credit card scams before and asked for i.d. from the customer as per store policy. These customers then refused to follow policy and got disrespectful with the staff and then began trashing the place destroying hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise. Now even the district attorney says there was no hate crime here. So please Danny Dromm do something better for your district and redirect your energy to the more important issues facing the citizens of this neighborhood.

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Anonymous

I am not a Christian, I am not against same sex relationship. But stop that his husband, her wife, why people can’t say his/her partner? When a man & a woman married it would be “A man & a woman as husband & wife”. Just saying.

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