Richard Luthmann, a Staten Island attorney whose previous claim to fame was asking to settle a legal matter through trial by combat, is in the news again after a NY1 investigation revealed he was allegedly behind a series of defamatory Facebook pages masquerading as official pages for various Staten Island politicians. He's also accused, in one instance, of coordinating the messages on a page with a competing candidate.
NY1 delved into the mystery of a Facebook page purporting to be representing Janine Materna, who ran for Assembly last year against the race's eventual winner, Ron Castorina. The "Materna" Facebook page claimed that she supported a homeless shelter in a Staten Island neighborhood, and also made the controversial (for a Republican) claim that she supported Black Lives Matter. Materna claimed she received death threats as a result of the fake page last year, and suggested that a political rival was behind the social media stunt.
And according to the NY1 report, she might have been correct, since the channel says they've seen what are Facebook messages showing coordination between Castorina and Luthmann about what would go on the page:
"Janine Materna filed a committee," Castorina begins.
Luthmann replies, "Time for a fake Janine Materna site..."
"Is there a picture of her with Hillary?" Luthmann asks.
"I’m looking for one," Castorina replies.
Eventually, a doctored photo of Clinton supposedly standing with Materna appeared on the page, with the statement. "On September 13" — the date of the GOP primary — "we will make HERstory."
NY1 also reported that Luthmann was the administrator for that page, which contained what the channel called an easy-to-miss "Unofficial Fan Page" disclaimer.
Luthmann was also fingered as the alleged brains behind similar pages about Staten Island Council Member Debi Rose (which claimed she was pro-heroin and methadone den in her district), Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, and a page targeting current Republican nominee for mayor Nicole Malliotakis.
Since McMahon is currently the D.A. in Staten Island, he's had to hand an investigation of the Facebook pages over to a special prosecutor, the NY Post reports. The investigation will look into whether Luthmann committed "criminal impersonation in the second degree, forgery in the third degree, and falsifying business records in the second degree," according to the tabloid.
Luthmann did not immediately respond to our request for comment on the allegations.
Luthmann, for his part, has been defiant in defense of his dirty tricks/self-proclaimed satirical Facebook pages. In a long (extremely long) Facebook post, Luthmann did his best Trump impersonation, including a variety of hashtag nicknames for his political foes, and admitted that while he was behind the page about Materna, Ron Castorina was not. He also wrote that he's planning on filing civil and criminal complaints about the NY1 story and that "good government" is for losers and snowflakes. Oh also this:
I am not a Republican or a Reaganite. I am a Trumpian and I play by a different set of rules. My political Bible was written by Roger Stone. I am a bear with the taste of blood in my mouth. I am a man-eater.
Oh. Well that explains everything then.