California man pleads guilty to hate crime for attack at Turkish restaurant

A man who attacked five people last year at a Turkish restaurant in the U.S. state of California and made death threats agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges in a hate crime case. 

According to a plea agreement filed Monday in U.S. District Court, William Stepanyan, a Glendale city resident, has agreed to plead to one count of conspiracy and one hate crime charge.

The 23-year-old Armenian-American is expected to enter a guilty plea to the felony charges in the coming weeks, a Department of Justice release said.

On the evening of Nov. 4, 2020 a group of six to eight males drove to the Cafe Istanbul restaurant located in Beverly Hills in the Los Angeles metro area, made pro-Armenia comments, destroyed property and physically attacked its employees.

According to the release, Stepanyan shouted anti-Turkish slurs, hurled chairs at the victims in the family-owned restaurant and threatened to kill them. He acted together with Harutyun Harry Chalikyan, 24, of Tujunga.

Chalikyan is scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 26. He has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and five hate crime charges.

Because of the attack, the restaurant suffered at least $20,000 worth of damage and had to close temporarily, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue, the statement added.

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