Acting AG Bruck Announces Indictment of Man Charged With Attempted Murder For Allegedly Beating And Choking Man He Suspected Of Being Gay

For Immediate Release: September 16, 2021

Office of The Attorney General
– Andrew J. Bruck, Acting Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, Director

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Peter Aseltine
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TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of a man charged with attempted murder and bias intimidation for allegedly beating and choking a man he suspected of being gay in North Hudson Park in North Bergen, N.J., on the night of June 21, 2021.

The Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau yesterday obtained a state grand jury indictment charging José Tobias Carranza Serrano, 18, of Baltimore, Md., aka “Kevin Lopez,” with the following offenses:

  1. Attempted Homicide (1st Degree)
  2. Bias Intimidation (1st Degree)
  3. Robbery (1st Degree)
  4. Aggravated Assault (2nd Degree)

Carranza Serrano was charged in an investigation by the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and DCJ Specialized Crimes Bureau—Bias Crimes Unit, assisted by the North Bergen, Hoboken, and Bayonne Police Departments. Carranza Serrano is being held pending trial in the Hudson County Correctional Facility.

Carranza Serrano allegedly attacked the victim after 11 p.m. on June 21, 2021, near the south end of the lake in North Hudson Park. The investigation revealed that the victim was a stranger whom Carranza Serrano had just met. Carranza Serrano allegedly wanted to kill the victim because he suspected the victim was gay. Carranza Serrano allegedly punched and kicked the victim in the face, causing bone fractures and knocking out several teeth. He also allegedly attempted to strangle the victim. Carranza Serrano allegedly took a phone and $8 from the victim. The victim was found unconscious near the path around the lake by a passerby shortly before 5 a.m. on June 22, 2021.

“We will not tolerate violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “There is simply no excuse for this type of hate, and we will ensure that those who engage in violence are held fully accountable for their actions.”

“We’re committed to working collaboratively to solve and aggressively prosecute bias crimes,” said Director Lyndsay Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Crimes motivated by hate pose a heightened threat to our communities and demand a heightened level of vigilance. I commend our Specialized Crimes Bureau, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and our other law enforcement partners for their outstanding work on this case.”

Deputy Attorney General Danielle Scarduzio presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart. Detectives Samer Abboud and Brian Christensen are assigned to the case for the DCJ Bias Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Lt. Michael Fallon, Deputy Chief of Detectives Robert Stemmer, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell.

Acting Attorney General Bruck thanked the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, under the leadership of Sheriff Frank X. Schillari, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Esther Suarez, and the North Bergen, Hoboken, and Bayonne Police Departments.

The first-degree bias intimidation charge carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison. The attempted murder charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, with parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense Attorney: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Yuri Aldrich, Hudson County.


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