Eight members of the East Coast Hate Crew, a racist skinhead group, were arrested in connection with a series of bias attacks over the past eighteen months in Ocean County, New Jersey.
Following an investigation conducted by the New Jersey Office of Bias Crimes, five adults and three juveniles were arrested on March 26, 2004, for allegedly taking part in six incidents targeting Mexican immigrants.
The defendants allegedly assaulted a number of immigrants at night, and, in a few cases, threw bricks through the windows of their victims' homes. One of the most violent incidents took place on October 10, 2003, in Tuckerton, where Ray Luna Torres was knocked off his bicycle and beaten with a baseball bat and other weapons.
Joseph Schmidt, 19, and Robert Hill, 20, both of Little Egg Harbor, Steve Vitti Jr., 21, of Tom's River, and Joshua Huff, 20, of Tuckerton, appeared in Superior Court to have their bail set. Vitti, a drummer for the racist rock band "H8Machine," faces the most charges, having allegedly taken part in five attacks attributed to the group.
A fifth man, also a Tuckerton resident, faces charges, but was a juvenile at the time of the alleged incidents. The cases against him and three other unnamed juvenile defendants are currently being processed in the Family Court. The New Jersey Attorney General's Office has thirty days to decide whether or not to try them as adults.
The eight defendants face numerous charges between them, including aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, robbery, bias intimidation, conspiracy to commit bias intimidation, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, simple assault, and bias crime of simple assault.
The East Coast Hate Crew, founded in 2002, also has chapters in New York City and Boston. It maintains close ties to other racist skinhead groups, including the Keystone State Skinheads and the New Jersey chapter of Eastern Hammerskins.