Politically connected Staten Island lawyer Richard Luthmann appeared in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday, this time as a criminal defendant. The 38-year-old and two co-defendants were arraigned on 11 federal charges in an alleged fraud, extortion and kidnapping scheme.
"The charges are serious, but obviously, we haven't had a chance to address them yet," said Joe Sorrentino, attorney for Richard Luthmann.
Prosecutors charge Luthmann defrauded companies that wanted to buy valuable scrap metal by sending them containers packed with cheap filler matetrial instead.
If anyone complained, Luthmann allegedly boasted that he would use the supposed organized crime connections of co-defendant George Padula III "to resolve those conflicts."
"We're going to find out what led to this indictment and we're going to defend him," said Matt Santamauro, attorney for George Padulla.
The indictment charges that to cover his tracks, Luthmann roped in a client who is blind and living on public assistance, naming him as president of one of the companies committing fraud.
Things took a violent turn, the indictment says, when Luthmann lured an unnamed co-conspirator to his office, where another defendant, Michael Beck, allegedly "pulled out a gun and aimed it at the co-conspirator's head and knee," seeking payment of a debt.
In a detention memo, prosecutors argued Luthmann is too dangerous to be granted bail.
"We obviously deny those things," Sorrentino said. "We don't think there is any chance of a flight risk. We don't think there's any chance of tampering with witnesses. We don't think there's any chance of danger to the community."
In the detention memo, prosecutors said Luthmann often referred to himself as "Saul" after corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman on TV's "Breaking Bad."
The memo also cites a confidential source as claiming "Luthmann approached people offering them money if they would falsely claim that state Supreme Court Justice Judith McMahon had sought bribes...to swing cases." According to the memo, the source also claims Luthmann once tried to pay an exotic dancer $10,000 to falsely claim that Judge McMahon's husband, Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, raped her years ago.
In August, NY1 revealed that Luthmann administered misleading Facebook pages to sway political races, in one case with input from Staten Island's Republican chairman. A special prosecutor is investigating that matter.
The three defendants are due back in court next week to appeal for bail.