A Fairfield couple that was accused in 2007 of brutally beating an Indian-American banker and using racial slurs against him has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. On June 29, a federal court in Sacramento sentenced Georgia and Joseph Silva to three years of supervised release after completing their prison sentence. The couple attacked San Francisco resident Vishal Wadhwa while he was visiting Lake Tahoe with his girlfriend, reports Sunita Sohrabji for India West.
Court briefs show the Silvas tackled Wadhwa to the ground, kicked him in the face, and yelled slurs at him, calling him an "Arab asshole" and "bin Laden." Wadhwa had to undergo surgery for fractures to his face.

When the El Dorado District Attorney threw out the felony hate crime charges in 2008, it spurred outrage in the Asian community. Groups like the Northern California South Asian Bar Association (SABA) lobbied the Department of Justice to get involved. Now these groups are applauding the sentence. US Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a press release that “vigorously enforcing federal hate crime laws is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice," ABC reports. Because it was a hate crime, the couple will not be credited for the time they have already served in custody.

"Hopefully, these sentences send a clear message that hate crimes against our community will not be tolerated, and will have a preventative effect as well as a punitive one," said Kiran Jain of SABA.

But attorney Elizabeth Grossman, who represented the Silvas in 2008, told India West that it was not a hate crime but was provoked by mental health issues coupled with intoxication.