Four plead guilty to U.S. election night violence

NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Four New York men have pleaded guilty to a string of racially motivated assaults on the night Barack Obama was elected as the first black U.S. president, a court spokesman said on Monday.

The three assaults in the New York City borough of Staten Island on Nov. 4 targeted black men, court documents said.

The accused ringleader, Ralph Nicoletti, 18, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to taking part in assaults that included striking a teenager with a metal pipe, pushing another man to the ground and driving a car into a third man.

The third victim was seriously injured and remained in a coma for several weeks after the attack, court papers said.

As a condition of his plea, Nicoletti agreed to a sentence of 12 years in prison, although the length is subject to a judge's approval, said court spokesman Robert Nardoza.

Three other men -- Brian Carranza, 21, and Michael Contreras and Bryan Garaventa, both 18 -- pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit hate crime assaults, Nardoza said. Each faces up to 10 years in prison.

"The conduct of the defendants is shocking and deplorable," said U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell. "On a night of historic significance, these four angry men assaulted their victims in an attempt to punish them for exercising a fundamental right of all Americans -- the right to vote." (Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and John O'Callaghan)