The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced that a jury found a San Clemente man guilty on Thursday, Oct. 17, of a felony hate crime for sucker punching an African American man who was working at the Whole Foods Market in Laguna Beach. The attack left the man with a broken nose and severe damage to his two front teeth.
Fernando Ramirez, 23, of San Clemente, was convicted of one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury, one misdemeanor violation of civil rights by force, and a felony hate crime enhancement, officials said in a statement.
The 26-year-old victim was working at the Laguna Whole Foods Market on June 15, 2019, when Ramirez ran up behind him and punched him in the face. Authorities said the victim did not know his attacker.
After his arrest, Ramirez reportedly went on a rant filled with racial epithets that targeted African Americans.
“Hate does not belong in Orange County,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “If you commit a crime motivated by hate, I can promise you the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ramirez has a prior felony state prison sentence for a 2014 gang related felony assault. He was sentenced to two years in state prison.
Ramirez is scheduled to be sentenced in Department C39 on Dec. 13. He faces a maximum of eight years in state prison.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos prosecuted this case.