Staten Island attorney Richard Luthmann says "One man's dirty trick is another man's civic participation." That’s what he posted on Facebook last week after NY1 revealed that he was the administrator of a misleading Facebook page made to resemble a campaign website of a state Assembly candidate, Republican Janine Materna.
One result of that revelation is a decision by a state Supreme Court judge on Tuesday to approve an application for appointment of a special prosecutor who will investigate whether Luthmann's actions violate any criminal laws.
"He is a bully, and that he should not be practicing law," Materna said.
The Facebook page looked like something Materna’s campaign might have created, but several posts mischaracterized her positions in a way that would have turned off GOP voters. Photos of Materna with Democrats like Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Attorney General Eric Holder also were posted.
At the time, Materna was locked in a bitter primary against Ron Castorina, a race she lost. NY1 revealed that Castorina knew about the misleading page and communicated with Luthmann about it.
Materna says the page led to threats against her life, and she asked the police last year to investigate. She renewed the request over the weekend, after Luthmann posted messages using the hashtag #bitterjaninematerna following NY1’s story.
"I don't know why he's doing this to me," Materna said. "I think it's because he got caught. He got caught basically being in collusion with my opponent, on basically ruining my reputation."
This week, Luthmann pledged to stop posting about Materna.
Facebook records obtained by NY1 also show Luthmann is the administrator of a similar Facebook page about City Councilwoman Debi Rose. She's in a tight Democratic primary against Kamillah Hanks.
Luthmann was also the administrator of a page created MADE RESEMBLE Michael McMahon's campaign site during his hotly contested race for Staten Island District Attorney. That connection makes McMahon's office ineligible to investigate, and is why the office made the application for a special prosecutor.
Because of the political nature of the posts, the investigation will be assigned to a private attorney and not another district attorney's office.