Borough President’s Son Held in Racial Attack
NEW YORK (AP) _ The son of the Staten Island borough president has pleaded innocent to charges that he hit a black youth with a hammer in a racially motivated attack.
James Lamberti, 17, pleaded innocent Tuesday to assault and weapon possession charges. He was released to his father’s custody pending a June 24 hearing.
Police said the attack Sunday night on William Galloway, 14, was racially motivated because a group of white youths that surrounded him yelled racial slurs before Lamberti allegedly hit him with a hammer.
The boy’s injuries were not serious, according to police and hospital officials.
Lamberti’s father, Ralph Lamberti, said, ″I know my son. I know it would not be racially motivated.″
″It is foreign to his parents and his upbringing,″ said the younger Lamberti’s lawyer, Norman Morse. ″He has asserted his innocence. We believe in his innocence.″
Police Sgt. Eugene Martinez said one other youth whose name was known to police was being sought in connection with the attack, in a park.
He said investigators did not know why Galloway became a target.
″There were other black youths in his group and they weren’t assaulted,″ he said.
The younger Lamberti, who is president of the student council at McKee Vocational High School, contended Galloway took the hammer to the park and Lamberti took it from him and threw it into the bushes, according to his lawyer.
Assistant District Attorney Arnold Berliner told the judge Lamberti had given investigators the same account, but the prosecutor said at least two witnesses identified Lamberti as the assailant.
The prosecutor also told the judge that Galloway’s description of his assailant did not fully match Lamberti. He said there was no evidence that Lamberti uttered the epithets.
The elder Lamberti, 50, has been borough president since Nov. 10, 1984.