Obituary: gay man’s death no longer debated to be hate crime

November 11, 2007

On Oct. 8 of last year, four men lured 29-year-old Michael J. Sandy, an interior designer from Williamsburg, N.Y., to meet with them at the parking lot of Plum Beach with the intentions of robbing him. Their strategy was simple: the foursome believed since Sandy was gay, he wouldn’t resist to robbery. Nor would he likely report the crime. On the day of the meeting, things did not go according to plan. Rather, they turned for the worst.

When he arrived he was set upon by the others. Sandy bolted for the nearby Belt Parkway with his attackers in close pursuit.

They caught up with him in one lane of the highway and as Sandy broke free he was struck by a car, sustaining massive head injuries.

The 28 year old died a week later after his family instructed doctors to take him off a life-support machine. (link)

District Attorney Charles Hynes claimed this was a hate crime. He said, “He was murdered because he was gay.”

In a twist, one of the perpetrators, 21-year-old Anthony Fortunato, claimed that he himself was not straight. He said, “I could be homosexual or bisexual. … I was leading two complete double lives.” Fortunato even had three men testify to his newly claimed sexual orientation.

All three said they met Fortunato through internet chat rooms. Two of them said that when Fortunato arrived at their homes he was wearing a bra and women’s panties.

“To my shock he was wearing ladies’ undergarments, he had a bra, if I remember correctly, and a G-string,” one of the men, Henry Rudolph testified.

Fortunato has been convicted of manslaughter in the second degree as a hate crime as well as petty larceny. The three others were similarly convicted.

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