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Couple arrested after launching hateful rant against family, including 10-year-old boy, on train

NBC News logo NBC News 1/21/2022 Marlene Lenthang
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A New York couple has been arrested and charged after they were filmed launching a hateful rant against a family on a train earlier this month, calling them "foreigners" and "immigrants with no rights."

Justin Likerman, 37, of Ronkonkoma, Long Island, and Kristin Digesaro, 38, of Huntington, Long Island, turned themselves into transit police Wednesday afternoon, MTA police confirmed. 

Both were charged with endangering the welfare of a child, and Likerman was additionally charged with second-degree aggravated harassment, according to officials.

The charges are in collaboration with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the Hate Crimes Unit, officials said.

The incident unfolded on Jan. 10 aboard a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train.

Liz Edelkind was with her 10-year-old son, husband and two others, on their way home from a New York Knicks game held at Madison Square Garden, NBC New York reported. They were looking for seats on the train together and asked some passengers to move to accommodate them when Likerman and Digesaro allegedly started to yell. Edelkind told the outlet she believes they were targeted due to her accent and skin color.

According to the complaint, Digesaro said, “You f——— immigrants, you have no rights in this country. You have no right to ask anyone to move. You don’t even pay taxes.”

Likerman also allegedly said: “F——— foreigners. You take all our resources,” according to the complaint.

Likerman was observed holding a beer can in his hand and threw beer from the can in the direction of the family, the complaint stated.

“The couple started to verbally attack me, calling me curse words, immigrant, that I don’t pay taxes, that I have no rights in this country,” Edelkind said to NBC New York.

In video footage of the rant, Likerman is heard saying, “Look straight, cause I’mma get arrested tonight” and “they’re taking over my f——— country.”

“Those words that come out their mouths don’t come out unless you have hatred in your heart,” Edelkind said. “The attack was completely unprovoked, a situation they created.”

Likerman and Digesaro were also both axed from their jobs at the Empire Toyota car dealership in Huntington, Long Island, on Jan. 13 after video of their rant circulated on social media and prompted an internal investigation, dealership general manager Keith Drago confirmed to NBC News.

The dealership announced the termination in a statement on social media.

"Empire Toyota ownership and management were outraged by the event involving two of its employees on the night of January 10th on the Long Island Railroad. The two employees were suspended when we first heard about this incident, and, as our investigation just concluded, they have been terminated," the company wrote last week.

"The heart and soul of our labor force is extremely diverse and we value our employees beyond description," the company said. "We can say without hesitation that whatever occurred on that LIRR train is in no way reflective of our company, its ownership, its management team, nor its employees."

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office said that Likerman and Digesaro were arraigned in criminal court and released on their own recognizance.

Likerman is due back in court on Feb. 23 and Digesaro on Jan. 24. 

Lawyers for Likerman and Digesaro did not immediately respond to NBC News' requests for comment.

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