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Tinley Park man charged with hate crime for assaulting black worker

Updated: September 4, 2012 3:02PM

A southwest suburban man who yelled racial slurs and physically attacked a man working at a nearby home has been charged with a hate crime, prosecutors said.

Joseph Berndt, 47, of Tinley Park, appeared at the Bridgeview courthouse on Tuesday after being charged with a felony hate crime, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. He was ordered held on a $25,000 bond.

The victim was a black man hired by a bank to clean up a foreclosed property in the 6200 Block of West 179th Street on Saturday. As the 51-year-old man was working on the property, which adjoins Berndt’s property, Berndt began “yelling racial slurs and accused the victim of burglarizing the property,” a statement from the state’s attorney’s office said.

When the victim explained he was authorized to be working there, Berndt threw a beer can and a brick at him, prosecutors allege. The victim then ran behind a gate and tried to lean against it to keep it closed, but Berndt “tried to hit the victim with a metal pipe by swinging it over the fence,” the statement said.

The man then tried to run away, but Berndt chased him with the pipe, and when the victim fell, Berndt “jumped on top of him, began choking him and threatened to kill him” before the man got away and called police, according to prosecutors.

Berndt is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 17 in Bridgeview.

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