Sentencing hearing on hate crime enhancement scheduled for February 9, 2021
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a Barrington man was found guilty in 6th Division District Court on misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges, stemming from a fight with his next-door neighbor in Barrington on August 3, 2020.
At today's hearing before District Court Judge Stephen M. Isherwood, the court found Richard Gordon, age 71, guilty of one count each of simple assault and disorderly conduct.
The State filed a sentencing enhancement in this case, pursuant to Rhode Island's Hate Crimes Sentencing Act, on August 11, 2020. In Rhode Island, there is no free-standing hate crime; rather, a defendant must first be convicted of a criminal offense.
If a defendant is convicted of a criminal offense, there is a separate sentencing hearing at which the State must prove that the criminal offense was motivated by "the actor's hatred or animus toward the actual or perceived disability, religion, color, race, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender of that person." If the court determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the criminal offense was so motivated, the penalty for the criminal offense can be increased pursuant to the Rhode Island Hate Crimes Sentencing Act.
A sentencing enhancement hearing has been scheduled for February 9, 2021 in 6th Division District Court.
At trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on August 3, 2020, Gordon assaulted his next-door neighbor once the neighbor replaced a surveyor's stake in Gordon's front yard.
On that day, Gordon exited his house to confront his neighbor. The victim was standing in the street, which divides the two properties. During the argument, Gordon yelled racial slurs at his neighbor. He then escalated the encounter into a physical assault with his neighbor, Bahram Pahlavi.
A portion of the incident was captured on cell phone video and was widely circulated on social media platforms following the incident.
Lieutenant Josh Birrell of the Barrington Police Department led the investigation into the case. Assistant Attorney General John Moreira and Special Assistant Attorney General Keith Hoffmann prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.