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Irvine man accused of hate crime against Latinos

June 3, 2010 |  9:49 am

An Iranian American man was expected to be arraigned Thursday in Santa Ana for allegedly attacking a Latino man and his teenage nephew in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime.

Arash Riazati, 31, of Irvine faces two felony and two misdemeanor charges related to the alleged Friday attack, as well as sentencing enhancements, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

According to prosecutors, Riazati was in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car at the intersection of Jamboree Road and Barranca Parkway at the boundary of the cities of Tustin and Irvine around midnight, waiting for the traffic light to change.

He was believed to have been involved in an altercation with some Latinos at a movie theater earlier in the day and became angry when he saw a Latino man and his nephew stopped in a car three lanes away at the intersection, prosecutors said.

He allegedly got out of his girlfriend’s car, approached the vehicle and struck the driver’s side rear door with a metal chain. Prosecutors said the occupants of the car, who did not know Riazati, were “extremely frightened.”

The uncle drove away, so the pair escaped any injury, prosecutors said.

An Irvine police sergeant, who happened to be in the area, witnessed the incident, prosecutors said.

Riazati faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. They will ask that his bail be set at $50,000.

-- Ann M. Simmons