Election Law

A New York City lawyer who once proposed settling a lawsuit with a duel has been charged with trying to influence elections by creating fake Facebook and Twitter pages in the names of local politicians.

The lawyer, Richard Luthmann of Staten Island, was charged with falsifying business records, identity theft, stalking, criminal impersonation, filing a false police report and election law violations, report the New York Times, SILive, NBC and NY1. The Times describes Luthmann as “an eccentric, bow-tie wearing lawyer.”

Prosecutors said Luthmann used the pages to post fake policy positions for a candidate for state Assembly in the Republican primary and a Democrat on the city council. He is also accused of falsifying emails regarding District Attorney Michael McMahon’s 2015 campaign.

The fake pages falsely said the Assembly candidate called for more housing projects and denigrated people with disabilities, and they also said the city councilwoman welcomed a welfare hotel for drug addicts and criminals.

The stalking charge involves threats made against the Assembly candidate because of the fake page. The false statements charge was based on a report Luthmann filed with police claiming his computers were “trespassed.”

Luthmann’s lawyer, Joseph Sorrentino, said outside court that the charges may not stick, according to SILive. “It remains to be seen whether or not these allegations rise to the level of just being dirty politics or do they rise to the level of a crime,” Sorrentino said. “Some people have the opinion that dirty tricks break the law, and other people have the opinion that dirty tricks are just that, dirty tricks.”

Luthmann is currently jailed as he awaits trial in a separate case that accuses him of participating in a scheme to cheat scrap metal customers by substituting cheap filler material. Prosecutors allege he created fake companies to carry out the fraud and recruited a blind legal client to be the nominal president of one of the companies.

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