Ex-Lyft driver facing 10-Year prison sentence for attacking Jewish passenger

The assault occurred less than three weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

A former Lyft driver in San Francisco is facing a maximum 10-year jail sentence and a fine of $250,000 for a brutal assault on a Jewish passenger last October.

Csaba John Csukás, 39, was arrested on Wednesday for the Oct. 26 assault at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

According to the indictment against him, he struck his passenger — an unnamed Israeli who lives in the San Jose region — in the face after learning his nationality. The victim was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment for minor injuries.

The indictment stated that when Csukás, a resident of Daly City, “approached the victim at a predetermined pickup location, [he] 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.”

The assault occurred less than three weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, amid a rising tide of antisemitic attacks in the US and around the world.

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Csukás appeared in court on Wednesday “charged with committing a federal hate crime which prohibits, among other things, causing bodily injury because of the actual or perceived religion or national origin of a person in circumstances affecting interstate commerce,” according to a statement issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Csukás faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the hate crime charge.

“If convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors,” the DOJ said.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland warned that the DOJ was determined to prosecute discriminatory actions like those of Csukás.

“The defendant, a rideshare driver, is charged with assaulting a rider because he thought the rider was Jewish or Israeli,” Garland said in a statement.

“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.”

In a statement to the Jewish News of Northern California shortly after the attack, Lyft said that it “unequivocally condemns antisemitism and all other forms of discrimination on the basis of religion or country of origin.”

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The company said it had made contact with the victim “to extend our support and assistance, have permanently removed the driver’s account from the platform, and stand ready to assist law enforcement with any investigation.”