A man who punched a black man working at a Whole Foods Market in Laguna Beach was found guilty Thursday of committing a hate crime, prosecutors said.
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, prosecutors said. He could face up to eight years in state prison when he is sentenced Dec. 13.
The 26-year-old employee was on a lunch break at the store June 15 when Ramirez came up to him from behind, got his attention and punched him in the face as he turned around, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. The victim was left with a broken nose and severe damage to two front teeth.
After he was arrested, Ramirez went on a “rant filled with racial epithets that targeted African Americans,” the district attorney’s office said in a news release.
Authorities said Ramirez previously was sentenced to two years in prison for a gang-related felony assault in 2014.
City News Service and Daily Pilot staff contributed to this report.