Jamie Larson, 49, was arrested at the scene of the attack. Police said he was drunk and admitted assaulting the cab driver, Kashmira Hothi, because he was wearing a turban. Hothi suffered a loose tooth and had chunks of his long beard ripped out.
Larson was initially charged in King County Superior Court with malicious harassment, but that charge was dropped Monday after it became clear that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle had taken the case. King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe notes that the federal charge carries a longer possible sentence -- up to 10 years in prison.
The federal indictment was unsealed Tuesday.
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