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Man Reportedly Apologizes for Death

June 9, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ The leader of a white mob that killed a black teen-ager and ignited racial tensions in the city nine years ago has apologized to the victim’s family, the Daily News reported today.

Keith Mondello, who was freed last month after serving the mandatory eight years of a 12-year sentence, sent a three-page letter to the parents of Yusuf Hawkins, the paper said.

``I accept the burden of your loss,″ he wrote in blue ink on lined notebook paper. ``I am so sorry that this happened and that I was so much involved in it. I am sorry not for my troubles, but for yours, for Yusuf and the rest of his family.″

Mondello, 27, who admitted assembling a gang of 30 people because he feared a black mob was coming to beat him up, was convicted of riot, unlawful imprisonment, discrimination, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

On Saturday, about 150 people marched through the heavily white Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn to protest Mondello’s release.

Joey Fama, who shot the 16-year-old Hawkins in the chest, was convicted of murder.

``For my own part, I can only ask to be forgiven,″ Mondello wrote in the letter. ``No matter how much time I’ve done in prison, the loss of your son can never be replaced. ... I know that it does not give you your son back, but I am truly, truly sorry.″

Hawkins’ mother, Diane Hawkins, was uncertain what to make of the letter. ``This piece of paper here. ... It’s nothing right now,″ she said.

``I don’t want to tell a lie,″ said the slain teen’s father, Moses Stewart. ``I don’t know what to feel.″

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