Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hate Crimes: Queens man indicted for fire-bombing Islamic mosque and Hindu temple

U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

An indictment was unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court charging Queens resident Ray Lazier Lengend, also known as “Suraj Poonai,” with hate crimes and explosives offenses stemming from his racially and religiously motivated fire-bombings of the Imam Al- Khoei Foundation mosque in Jamaica, Queens, and a Hindu temple housed in a private residence in Hillside, Queens on January 1, 2012. Lengend is also charged with an explosives offense in connection with his fire-bombing of a convenience store in Hillside, Queens. The defendant will be arraigned on the afternoon of March 26, 2012 before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Jan Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office. An indictment of Lengend was also unsealed today in Queens County Supreme Court relating to the fire-bombings.

As alleged in court filings, Lengend’s fire-bombing activity began at approximately 8:00 p.m. on January 1, 2012. At that time, Lengend entered a local convenience store located near the intersection of 179th Street and Hillside Avenue in Queens and threw a flaming bottle filled with gasoline. The bottle hit the ground, and liquid spilled out and began to burn. A store employee extinguished the flames, and no one was hurt. After leaving the convenience store, Lengend traveled to a private residence on 107th Avenue in Queens, where he threw another fire-bomb. This time, the house caught fire, causing substantial damage to its structure. Lengend later went to the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation mosque, where he threw glass bottles containing gasoline at the building with the goal of inflicting damage on the mosque and harming Muslims and Arabs. Lengend’s final fire-bombing in Queens targeted the Hindu temple, which is located inside the residence of the temple’s leader. Lengend was arrested by New York City Police Department detectives within two days of the attacks.

“Hate crimes offend the very principles upon which this country was founded, and those who engage in such conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This defendant allegedly sought to fan the flames of ethnic and religious tension. Those flames will always be extinguished by the rule of law,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We are deeply grateful to the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Police Department for their investigation and coordination in this matter.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk stated, “Violence directed against individuals or groups because of their demographic identity is an affront to the Constitution and a crime. The FBI is committed to protecting and preserving the rights of all Americans, including the free exercise of one’s chosen religion.”

If convicted of all charges, the defendant faces a minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Pamela K. Chen.

The Defendant

RAY LAZIER LENGEND, also Known as “Suraj Poonai”