Lawyer Allegedly Created Fake Social Media to Influence Elections
The New York Times called Richard Luthmann "an eccentric, bow-tie-wearing lawyer," but that didn't tell half the story.
Luthmann was not wearing a bow tie last week because he was in jail, facing multiple charges that paint a very different picture of the Staten Island practitioner. He is looking at more than four years in prison for fraud and other crimes.
But that's not even the other half of the story. Luthmann allegedly tried to interfere with local elections in a small-scale, fake Facebook campaign. But why?
It's not a crime for a lawyer to wear a bow-tie, but what about an attorney who once proposed settling a case by duel? That's the kind of lawyer Luthmann is -- a throw-back to another time and place.
It explains in part why he is in a world of hurt. According to prosecutors, Luthmann has been working with reputed mobsters for some time. He did more than make court appearances.
Luthmann allegedly tried to pay one of his partners -- an apparent Mafioso -- to murder a top official in Staten Island's Democratic Party and to "beat up" another official. Court documents say he also tried to pay a stripper $10,000 to claim she had been raped by the local district attorney.
So yeah, the Facebook scandal was small-scale by comparison. It's just the latest in Luthmann's evolving story.
In the latest caper, the Times called Luthmann "the troll of Staten Island." Two local politicians allegedly employed Luthmann to set up fake social media pages to make their opponents look bad.
In chat conversations about it, Luthmann shared pornographic images and off-color remarks about the opposition. One is altered to make it appear as though a candidate was having sex; another portrays a politician being sodomized.
Luthmann has played off the phony Facebook and Twitter accounts as simply shrewd politics. "It's what is called a dirty trick," he said.
But that's another story. For now, he is in jail awaiting trial on the fraud case.
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