Once prominent Staten Island attorney Richard Luthmann has been serving a four year federal prison term for his role in a scrap metal fraud. But Tuesday, he appeared virtually in a Staten Island court for sentencing for state charges related to some misleading Facebook pages first revealed by NY1.
What You Need To Know
- Luthmann pleaded guilty to three counts of falsifying business records and two counts of election law violations
- He was sentenced to time served and two years probation
- The plea also includes orders of protection for several Staten Island lawmakers, including Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon and City Councilwoman Debi Rose
- Luthmann is expected to be released on his federal charges in August, when he plans to move to Florida to serve his probation
Eric Nelson was the special prosecutor in the case.
"The social media charges were the first ever filed in New York State in terms of falsifying business records," he said.
Wearing a white face mask and khaki prison garb, Luthmann spoke only intermittently, to plead guilty to three counts of falsifying business records and two election law charges.
The case was prosecuted after NY1 revealed that Luthmann was responsible for creating several Facebook pages in candidates’ names to try to influence political races.
The pages Luthmann created and operated looked like pages the politicians they impersonated might have created themselves. But they were filled with fake items that were politically harmful to those politicians, like one in which the politician voiced support for a local homeless shelter.
Luthmann said it was simply a political dirty trick -- a stance that hasn't changed despite his guilty plea:
Defense attorney Mario Romano told NY1, "I think that he thought that he was playing right at the line of the rules."
Luthmann's sentence also comes with orders to stay away from several prominent Staten Islanders, with orders of protection for Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, city councilwoman Debi Rose, former assembly candidate Janine Materna, and Democratic party figures John Gulino and Stuart Brenker.
Nelson explained that decision, saying "It wasn't just electioneering, it was some personal things that took place regarding each of the individuals and I'd rather be safe."
Luthmann was sentenced to time served -- and two years probation.
During the course of his investigation, the special prosecutor also discovered another Luthmann crime, this one for grand larceny on a real estate deal. He plead guilty and was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution in that matter.
Luthmann is expected to be released on the federal charges in August, and then he's making plans to move to Florida, where his lawyers are hopeful he can serve out the terms of his probation.