Couple charged with assaulting Hasidic men was ‘attacked,’ attorney says

The Queens couple charged with a hate crime for allegedly attacking a group of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn for not practicing social-distancing is not anti-Semitic, and were only “speaking out about what they saw,” according to their lawyer.

Grocery delivers Paulo Pinho, 35, and his wife, Clelia Pinho, 46, were arrested late Sunday on a charge of aggravated harassment as a hate crime after a confrontation with a large group of Hasidic Jews gathered outside Bedford Avenue and Ross Street in Williamsburg, police said.

The pair hopped out of their car and began to shout “anti-Semitic statements” to the crowd before Paulo Pinho approached three Hasidic men and tried to rip off their masks, accusing them of being the reason why people were contracting the coronavirus, police said.

“After making the statements, that’s when the masks were pulled off,” said NYPD Lt. Thomas Antonetti.

But an attorney for the couple claims they were victimized for “taking an irresponsible mass of individuals to task” for not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

They also “actively deny” making anti-Semitic statement to the crowd of about 100, attorney Ken Belkin said in a statement. “My clients abhor racism and anti-Semitism in all of their forms.”

“This incensed the crowd and tempers flared,” Belkin continued. “My clients were the ones who called the NYPD and they did so out of fear for their lives. The crowd then attacked my clients and they were treated for their injuries at Woodhull Hospital.”

The male victims, at least one of whom was wearing traditional Hasidic garb, refused medical attention at the scene, police said.

Once at the hospital, doctors treated Clelia Pinho for a broken arm, Belkin said.

The pair, who were issued a desk appearance ticket, are due in court on Sept. 8. If convicted, they face up to one year in jail, Belkin said.

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