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Article updated: 12/6/2012 4:28 PM

DuPage man guilty of hate crime in beating at gas station

By Josh Stockinger

A former Darien man has been convicted of a hate crime for the bizarre and apparently unprovoked attack on a man at a Woodridge gas station, authorities said Thursday.

Ali Akel, 34, was charged June 20, 2011, after prosecutors said he hurled racial slurs at and spat on a black man waiting in line at a Mobil station, then threw the victim down and began punching him.

The beating unfolded about 3:30 p.m. at the business on the 1900 block of 75th Street. A bystander pulled Akel off the 22-year-old victim, who suffered minor injuries.

"There was nothing in particular that set him off," DuPage County state's attorney's spokesman Paul Darrah said Thursday.

At his initial court appearance last year, Akel told a judge he wanted to plead guilty. But after being released on bond, he fled to Hawaii, where he is now wanted on unrelated arrest warrants, according to court records.

Akel returned to Illinois over the summer and was held without bail. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to the felony hate crime charge, as well as aggravated battery. Judge George Bakalis sentenced him to two years of probation and a year of periodic imprisonment.

The term allows Akel to leave the county jail regularly to receive unspecified treatment at a West Chicago nursing home, authorities said. He received credit for 117 days already served.

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