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Former rideshare driver arrested after launching alleged antisemitic attack on passenger

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(NEW YORK) — A former rideshare driver has been arrested after launching an attack on a passenger because he perceived the individual to be Jewish or Israeli, according to the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The indictment against 39-year-old rideshare driver Csaba John Csukás from Daly City, California, was announced on Wednesday regarding the alleged attack which took place on Oct. 26 last year at San Francisco International Airport in California, just 19 days after Hamas launched the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel.

“The indictment alleges Csukás worked as a driver for an app-based rideshare company and was hired to drive the victim from SFO to the victim’s home,” the Department of Justice said in their statement regarding the alleged antisemitic attack. “The indictment further alleges that when Csukás approached the victim at a predetermined pickup location, Csukás asked the victim if the victim was Jewish or Israeli, stated that he would not transport a Jewish or Israeli person, and attacked the victim by striking the victim in the face with his fist.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland did not mince his words when speaking about the case against Csukás and the lengths the Department of Justice would go to punish people who commit federal hate crimes.

“The defendant, a rideshare driver, is charged with assaulting a rider because he thought the rider was Jewish or Israeli,” said Garland in statement released by the Department of Justice. “No one in this country should live in fear because of how they worship or where they come from. The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who perpetrate hate-fueled violence motivated by antisemitism or by bias of any kind.”

Csukás made his initial court appearance on Wednesday and is charged with committing a federal hate crime which prohibits “causing bodily injury because of the actual or perceived religion or national origin of a person in circumstances affecting interstate commerce,” according to the Justice Department.

“When taking public transportation – whether a taxi, bus, or rideshare – customers should be able to ride without being profiled, or worse yet attacked, because of their nationality or religion by drivers,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey for the Northern District of California. “We will prosecute any ride-share driver who assaults a passenger in such hate-fueled violence.”

Csukás now faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the hate crime charge and, if he is convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors, says the Justice Department.

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