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Ride-share driver punched passenger he thought was Israeli at SFO, feds say

Cars drop off travelers at the San Francisco International Airport International departures level on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. Many are leaving town before the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
Federal prosecutors say the driver was hired through an app-based ride-share service to pick up the victim at San Francisco International Airport and drive him to San Jose. | Source: Gina Castro/The Standard

A former ride-share driver has been charged with a hate crime after authorities said he assaulted a rider he was picking up at San Francisco International Airport because he perceived him to be Jewish or Israeli.

According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Csaba John Csukás, 39, struck the victim, identified by the initials S.B., in the face with his fist after arriving at SFO to drive him to San Jose on Oct. 26, 2023. At the pickup location, Csukás asked S.B. if he was Jewish or Israeli, told him he wouldn't drive a Jewish or Israeli person in his car and then allegedly assaulted him.

The indictment states that Csukás was hired through an app-based ride-share service, but the court document does not identify the company he was working for. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California told The Standard they did not have that information.

Csukás, of Daly City, was arrested on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He faces one count of committing a federal hate crime "causing bodily injury because of the actual or perceived religion or national origin of a person in circumstances affecting interstate commerce," the office said.

“This unprovoked attack was senseless and brutal,” Robert Tripp, special agent in charge of the San Francisco FBI Field Office, said in a statement. “Hate crime is among the FBI’s highest priorities and we will work to bring justice for victims of bias-motivated crime.”

If convicted, Csukás faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Stephanie K. Baer can be reached at