Warrant issued for Ottawa man charged in hate-motivated attack

A 23-year-old Ottawa man charged with a hate-motivated assault in Washington, D.C., in March is now wanted on a bench warrant after he failed to show up for his felony arraignment in a U.S. courtroom Tuesday.

Bench warrant issued for Brandon Vaughan, who failed to appear in a Washington, D.C., courtroom Tuesday

A screen grab from a video posted to Youtube shows a scuffle breaking out between rival protesters outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre in Washington, D.C., during the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 26, 2017. (Youtube)

A 23-year-old Ottawa man charged with a hate-motivated assault in Washington, D.C., in March is now wanted on a bench warrant after he failed to show up for his felony arraignment in a U.S. courtroom Tuesday.

The assault is alleged to have occurred March 26, 2017, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was holding its annual policy conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington.

Rival demonstrations by left-wing Jewish anti-establishment groups and the far-right Jewish Defense League took place outside the centre.

According to an incident report filed by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the incident happened across the street from the convention centre at about 2:15 p.m. and involved one victim and multiple suspects.

Accused of 'anti-Arab' bias

The victim, a resident of Charlotte, N.C., told police he "got into a verbal altercation across the street" from the centre, was "punched about the face area ... fell to the sidewalk, and then was struck in the right eye by a pole," the MPD incident report states. 

The victim also told police he "was kicked in the lower left side of his back" while he was trying to get to his feet.

An indictment filed in early April by the grand jury in Washington alleges "Brandon David William Vaughan, while armed with and having readily available dangerous and deadly weapons, that is, a pole and a shoe, unlawfully assaulted and threatened [the victim] in a menacing manner and intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly caused significant bodily injury."

It also alleges the assault "demonstrated the prejudice of Brandon David William Vaughan based on the actual or perceived race, color, or national origin" of the victim.

The 23-year-old Ottawa man — who is a member of the Proud Boys, a far-right men's organization — was charged with assault with significant bodily injury while armed, and bias-related hate crime. The MPD incident report lists the bias as "anti-Arab."

2 co-accused appeared in court

The charge of assault with significant bodily injured while armed carries a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison, and if convicted of the hate-crime enhancement, the penalty would increase to 1.5 times that amount, or 45 years.

Two other men were charged alongside Vaughan:

  • Yosef Steynovitz, 33, from Toronto is facing one count each of assault with a dangerous weapon, a hate-motivated assault with significant bodily injury while armed, and misdemeanor assault.
  • Rami Lubranicki, 60, from Howell, New Jersey, is facing two counts of misdemeanour assault.

Both the Toronto man and the New Jersey man appeared in court for their scheduled arraignments, according to Bill Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

All three accused men are next due to appear in court on July 31.