No Jail Time for Black Students Behind Hate Crime Hoax

Two black University of Albany students hoaxed everybody into thinking they were victims of a race-based hate crime. They now face probation, community service, and fines.

Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell are not going to prison despite the Albany County probation department’s recommendation of prison time and then probation.

Roger McDonough, the judge presiding over the trial, issued the sentence on Friday in front of a standing-room-only audience. The girls will each face 200 hours of community service coupled with three years of probation, as well as a $1,000 fine.

Times Union reports:

ALBANY — The former University at Albany students who were convicted of falsely reporting a hate crime on a CDTA bus last year avoided jail time Friday, and instead received a sentence of probation, community service and a fine.

“There have been significant consequences already for what has happened, but I don’t think there’s any benefit in sentencing you to a jail term — no benefit for society and no benefit for you,” he said.

The year-and-a-half-long saga isn’t quite over yet. Attorneys for the women filed a notice Friday to appeal the convictions, though they won’t be seeking a stay of the sentence, attorney Mark Mishler said.

Prior to Friday’s sentencing, Assistant District Attorney David Rossi told the judge that his office had never been interested in jail time for the women, and indeed still wasn’t.

“This case has never been about jail for us,” he said. “It has been about taking responsibility and setting the record straight so the community would heal. The defendants have chosen this path instead. Even now, all we’re asking for is an apology.”

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