Felony charges filed against man accused of discrimination burglaries

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Felony charges were filed today against a 26-year-old Palm Springs man who allegedly targeted people for burglaries based on their ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Paul Claudio Piermartiri was charged with three counts of burglary, with sentence-enhancing allegations of committing a felony because of the victim's race. He is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, according to court records.

Piermartiri was arrested shortly after 5:30 a.m. Friday at a local hospital, where he'd sought treatment for an injury. Earlier that morning, a 49-year-old man told police he was sleeping in his residence in the 400 block of Bella Cara Way in Palm Springs when he awoke to find a man standing next to his bed, Palm Springs police Sgt. Harvey Reed said.

``The victim reported that he yelled at the subject, who then ran out of the victim's residence,'' Reed said.

He said officers found evidence at the scene indicating the suspect may have hurt himself, and discovered two residences in the area had been burglarized.

Officers contacted local hospitals while looking for the suspect, and found Piermartiri, Reed said.

``The officers' investigation led them to believe that Piermartiri had committed the burglaries and targeted the victims based on their ethnicity and sexual orientation,'' he alleged.

Reed said he couldn't elaborate on the ethnicity and sexual orientation allegations because the investigation was ongoing.

Piermartiri was booked at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on suspicion of burglary, hate crimes and a violation of probation, and is being held without bail, according to jail records.

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