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Hate crime charges filed against Michael Vivona in attack on elderly Korean couple


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    SANTA ANA, California (KCAL, KCBS) — A 26-year-old man was charged with multiple hate crimes after punching an elderly Asian couple as they took a walk and a verbal attack on Japanese American Olympic karate athlete, Sakura Kokumai, all at the same park in Orange.

Michael Orlando Vivona, of Orange, was charged with two felony counts each of elder abuse and battery – hate crime causing injury, and two felony hate crime enhancements. Vivona remains in custody on $65,000 bail.

“If you engage in hate-motivated crimes, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “My prosecutors have and will continue to aggressively prosecute haters who target Asians as well as anyone who is the victim of a hate crime whether it is as a result of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected class.”

Prosecutors say Vivona ran up to a Korean couple, ages 78 and 79, as they took their nightly walk at Grijalva Park in Orange and punched the husband in the face. He fell to the ground, and as the couple looked for help, Vivona allegedly punched the wife in the face too, causing her to fall down.

Bystanders came to the couple’s defense, and Vivona was arrested by Orange Police Department officers. Vivona later made statements to officers disparaging Asians, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Vivona is also under investigation in the verbal attack Japanese American Olympic karate athlete Sakura Kokumai documented on Instagram. The attack also happened at Grijalva Park, on April 1.

If convicted on all counts, Vivona faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison.

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