Richard Luthmann recently came on board as a writer at the Frank Report. As part of the work we do, we are investigating his convictions to determine if they were false or proper. This is the first in a series.
Republican Ronald Castorina, Jr. was a New York State Assemblyman from Staten Island before being elected as a State Supreme Court Judge.
He was in a hotly-contested and vicious 2016 primary race against attorney Janine Materna.
During the campaign, Materna accused Castorina of engaging in “smear tactics.”
Attorney Janine Materna claims Judge Castorina had a hand in digital “smear tactics” in their 2016 N.Y.S. Assembly primary election. A Castorina associate, Richard Luthmann, was convicted of falsifying business records and criminal impersonation.
Materna alleged Castorina was responsible for creating a fake Facebook page that resembled Materna’s official campaign page.
Castorina denied any knowledge of the Facebook page or its creation.
Materna was running in a Republican primary in a heavily Republican district. The fake Facebook page satirically poked at her former Democratic party affiliation, by posting pictures of and tying her to Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton.
Materna did her own brand of dirty tricks by falsely alleging Castorina was arrested when it was only a speeding ticket 15 years ago, and that he did not live in the assembly district.
Materna claimed the fake Facebook page caused her to lose the election.
A year later, in 2017, the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office assigned a special prosecutor to investigate whether attorney Richard Luthmann, “a longtime friend of Castorina,” made the Facebook page and committed any crime.
Though he was the clear beneficiary of the fake Facebook page, Castorina said he was unaware of it.
“I’ll let that all play out,” Assemblymen Castorina said. “You can make your own decisions. But, frankly, this is between [Luthmann] and [Materna].”
Castorina added further that he did not “know Luthmann well” and denied “being his friend.”
Grand Jury Testimony
The first special prosecutor determined there was no crime because the First Amendment covered the conduct.
The District Attorney appointed a second special prosecutor,
In August 2018, the special prosecutor convened a Grand Jury.
Then-Assemblyman Castorina was a witness for the prosecution.
The special prosecutor asked Castorina if he was an associate of Luthmann.
Q. And how do you know Mr. Luthmann?
A. Mr. Luthmann is, I believe currently and was, a member of the New York State bar. He was an attorney, and so I knew of him from just appearing in the courts; you know, going to bar association functions where he would regularly be.
He was hard to — to miss and hard to not — he was hard to miss because he was always very — a very boisterous guy, a very big personality, and so he was somebody that I would typically like to avoid.
The special prosecutor asked about communications with Luthmann. Castorina said Luthman was crazy, and that he contacted him without encouragement:
A. But any communications that he had with me were unwanted communications, and as an elected official, at times people contact you that probably you don’t want them to, but you have to kind of placate them.
And we have crazy people that contact me. There are people that are just, you know, complainers. There are all kinds of people when you’re in the public eye. They will gravitate to you for whatever reason and they will seek you out.
He was one of those such people, but, in addition to that, he was also an adversary representing people on the other side of certain cases that I had, and in particular —
Q. Just don’t —
Q. Leave it at that.
Castorina could not quite escape the fact that he had contacted Luthman via private messaging on Facebook. Castorina swore he was only “placating” him:
A. And then on the private messenger side that wasn’t public, he would send all kinds of lewd, really disgusting pornographic-in-nature-at-times, racially-biased-at-times images that, you know, I would just kind of ignore or placate in some way, and, you know, just to — to get this person away.
I don’t want to deal with this person, I don’t want to talk to this person, I want nothing do with this person, but this person just keeps coming back.
Based in part on Judge Castorina’s testimony, Luthmann was indicted and convicted of falsifying Facebook’s business records and criminally impersonating Janine Materna.
The Rooster Crows?
While Luthmann got no gain from it, Castorina indeed benefited from the fake Facebook page. His opponent attributed it to her loss. He served in the assembly, and because of his elected position, Republican party bosses then picked Castorina to be a judge.
Castorina’s judicial term ends on December 31, 2035.
A Facebook page did a lot for Castorina, and his disavowal of it did even more for the judge. It spared him prosecution.
But was he as innocent as he claims in the creation and advancement of a fake Facebook page targeting and impersonating his opponent?
On the other hand, what was Luthmann’s motivation? He was not running against Materna.
It is commonplace in criminal investigations to consider motive.
What was Luthmann’s motive? Why would Luthmann create a fake Facebook page to help Castorina, if Castorina neither prompted him nor wanted it?
Ronald Castorina, Jr. now serves as a New York State Supreme Court Justice in Richmond County.
Evidence shows that Castorina may have been behind it all.
Castorina’s sworn grand jury testimony is at odds with documents released by NY1 News.
NY1 obtained screen shots of Facebook conversations between Luthmann and Castorina in which the creation of such a site was discussed.
“Janine Materna filed a committee [to run against me[,” Castorina begins.
Luthmann replies, “Time for a fake Janine Materna site…”
“Is there a picture of her with Hillary?” Luthmann asks.
“I’m looking for one,” Castorina replies.
Eventually, a doctored photo of Clinton supposedly standing with Materna appeared on the page, with the statement. “On September 13” — the date of the GOP primary — “we will make HERstory.”
In another Facebook conversation, Luthmann sent Castorina that photo of Materna and Holder, and an image linking Materna and Mayor de Blasio, adding:
“In a news feed near you very soon!”
“Good,” Castorina replied. “She’s a vicious animal.”
Facebook records show Castorina was willing to participate in the fake Facebook page lampooning and smearing Materna, but also helped Luthmann find content including pictures.
He does not seem like a man merely placating a crazy person or trying to get away from him.
From available evidence (much of which we will publish in a subsequent story), Castorina may have been the driving force or at least a co conspirator in the creation of the Facebook page.
At least, Castorina’s grand jury testimony condemns him.
A good, integrous candidate would have written back to Luthmann, “Stop what you are doing! Do not impersonate my opponent and place pictures of Hillary Clinton and her. I want to be a judge one day, and this is not how I conduct myself.”
Instead, Castorina sought a picture of Hillary and his opponent and was pleased to hear his collaborator was going to post a picture of Materna with Holder, adding “good she’s a vicious animal.”
Additional Facebook and phone records show Luthmann and Castorina collaborated to produce the Facebook page – though Castorina swore under oath he had nothing to do with the page.
Judge Castorina’s claim he avoided Luthmann at all costs is belied by this photo taken on the night Castorina won the 2016 primary election over Janine Materna.
Castorina (center) is flanked by Luthmann (right) and attorney Sean O’Sullivan (left). They celebrated as friends and colleagues their hard-fought victory.
Overall, a good investigator or special prosecutor, if they studied all available records and interviewed witnesses, could see that Judge Castorina’s sworn grand jury testimony is false.
Frank Report spoke to one eyewitness prepared to testify before a grand jury to investigate the judge’s possible perjury. He said he personally witnessed Castorina call Luthmann repeatedly during the campaign.
Phone records back up this witness’ account and show dozens of phone calls originating from Castorina to Luthmann.
Since the phone calls predate Castorina’s grand jury testimony, it flies in the face of his claim under oath that he never sought out Luthmann, but avoided him, and when contacted, he only placated him.
The eye witness also described where Castorina sought out Luthmann’s company and where they met. One locale ironically, is also a location used in the movie The Godfather.
Did Judge Castorina Really Break the Law?
Luthmann’s Fake Facebook conviction is under appeal in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division.
There is a question whether the fake Facebook page even constitutes criminal activity. What the case may turn on is that Luthmann and Castorina clearly put a disclaimer on the Facebook page, saying it is not an official site. They linked to Materna’s official Facebook page.
Luthmann also claims the U.S. Government has been creating fake social media sites for years.
Was Castorina a co-conspirator? It seems from the evidence – of which we have only posted a fraction – Castorina was a coconspirator.
This is not only because of motive – for it was Castorina, after all, who got the benefit – but also because of ample evidence of their communications that establishes collaboration.
But the fake (or if you prefer, the First Amendment-protected satirical) Facebook page is not Castorina’s real problem.
The statute of limitations have passed, and even though Judge Castorina may have been a partner in the endeavor, he can’t be charged anymore for the creation of the Facebook page.
However, where Judge Castorina is vulnerable is his 2018 grand jury testimony.
New York State Penal Law § 210.15 makes perjury under oath at an official proceeding a Class D Felony.
Judge Castorina may face one to three years in prison. He may be defrocked and lose his law license.
Would Anyone Dare Prosecute a Powerful Republican Judge?
A perjury charge against a sitting New York State Supreme Court Justice is extremely serious and rare.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio Jr, presided over the sentencing of former State Supreme Court Judge John Michalek. He said Judge Michalek violated the code of highest standards that judges must follow, and adversely impacted the public’s overall trust and respect for the judicial system.
He sentenced the judge to 16 months imprisonment.
And what was Judge Michaelek’s crime that sent him to prison for 16 months? He asked a lawyer with a case before him to try to help his son get a political job, accepted hockey tickets to two games, and let his wife attend a $250 political fundraiser hosted by the lawyer for free.
Judge Michalek did not rule in the lawyer’s favor.
Attorney General Letitia James, whose office handled the prosecution, said, “New Yorkers put their trust in judges and public servants to serve the interests of the people, not make a mockery of our institutions for personal financial gain… Let today’s sentencing [of Judge Michalek] be a warning to all who would try to do the same…..my office will always hold corrupt officials accountable.”
FR contacted the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office about whether there was an ongoing investigation into the alleged perjury of Judge Castorina. As of press time, we have not received a response.
Like her office did with former Judge Michalek, who served on the bench for more than 20 years, Attorney General James has prosecutorial power to investigate Judge Castorina, who has served as a judge for only one year.
FR has been unable to determine if Judge Castorina is under investigation with the New York State Attorney General.
The best the citizens of the Empire State can do at this point is follow Judge Castorina’s advice when he denied having any part or even knowledge of a Facebook page that benefited him first and foremost:
“Let that all play out… You can make your own decisions.”
But how will it play out?
It has been observed that it is not the crime, but the coverup.
It’s a straightforward concept.
Judge Castorina may have covered up once, which may be criminal, but continuing to cover up may lead to disastrous consequences.
More information needs to be published.
The additional information appears to show Castorina’s eager participation in creating a Facebook page about Materna – then denying it under oath.
His grand jury description of his relationship with Luthmann bears more scrutiny.
FR will publish more in a series of stories.
If only to prove that judges and assemblymen are not above the laws they make and enforce.
As they hold others to a standard, they must abide that standard, not by measures some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold less, but an hundredfold more.
[…] FR has written about Nelson’s examination of NYS Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina, Jr.’s in the grand jury: Did NYS Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina Commit Perjury in Phony Facebook Case? […]
[…] Did NYS Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina Commit Perjury in Phony Facebook Case? […]
[…] Did NYS Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina Commit Perjury in Phony Facebook Case? […]
[…] We began our coverage with: Did NYS Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina Commit Perjury in Phony Facebook Case? […]
[…] An anonymous person commented about my story: Did NYS Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina Commit Perjury in Phony Facebook Case? […]
I guess no one wanted to actually look at the evidence of the text messages. How about Luthmann’s phone calls? What do they show?
Are we really to believe he didn’t direct Luthmann to do his bidding?
It would be laughable had Luthmann not paid the price for all of it.
How can this guy be a judge? He clearly engaged in unethical conduct (at best) along with Luthmann to undermine his opponent. He then blatantly lied about his role.
It seems those in higher power manipulated behind the scenes to make Luthmann (a thorn who calls people out on their conduct) the fall guy and used this as an opportunity to disparage, discredit and eliminate Luthmann.
He gets disbarred and sent to prison for four years, while Castorina gets promoted to position of highest authority.
Our government is evil. Pure corruption.
They went for lower hanging fruit. Clearly this judge was leading the charge and directing Luthmann by approving of suggestions.
He lied under oath (as they all seem to) and threw Luthmann under the bus. Then stepped on him to become a judge.
Frank, you certainly have an odd notion of evidence. And a quirky sense of what constitutes perjury. Please never stop being you!
And the people you choose to defend! Now it’s Luthman, the Thor’s Hammer wielding lawyer with the Harry Potter glasses. The disbarred fraudster convicted of multiple crimes https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2021/08/trial-by-combat-lawyer-richard-luthmann-released-from-federal-custody.html?outputType=amp
You sure can pick ‘em. It’s most entertaining!
Free Ron Castorina! We all have to stand behind Ron!
I wonder is Sean O’Sullivan is the “source.”
It’s almost impossible to care about middle-aged people making fake Facebook pages. This sounds like a tale told by idiots about another idiot.
It would have been beneficial to just lay out the facts without all the editorializing. But it’s clearly about pushing one person’s agenda. Unfortunately for that person, they are blind to the reality that revisiting this nonsense only makes them look like a complete juvenile, moron.
This is one of those situations where you pick your battles and you don’t further associate yourself with such ridiculous past behavior because there’s no retelling of this tale that makes anyone look very good. And you’re just generating your own embarrassing press for Google searches. Not smart.
Frank, you can do so much better than this kind of silliness. Will never understand your chosen association with this clown. It does no long-term benefit to you, Frank. You should be reaching up or at least across and not down.
I think Rich is a decent person. I believe personally that it is wrong to create a fake Facebook website that mimics another person. I also doubt it is criminal.
But I am curious if the judge, who got the benefit, got away with it. I like to hold those who make and uphold the law to a standard as high or higher as they hold the people.
Rich deserves a second chance. I think he has talent and ability. And what is our whole criminal justice system about if it is not about second chances?
But it strikes me that this conviction might be wrongful. So part of our free press system is to exonerate the innocent. That exoneration cannot be left at the doorsteps of the criminal justice system.
They are weak in self-reflection. That is not their job. Let us see where this plays out.
But for Rich to get his full freedom – this needs to be better. He spent time in prison – so he paid the price. Now let us see whether he paid wrongly. And whether a man who sits on the bench and judges others is the kind of man we should trust to be there, judging other citizens.
The illegality of that kind of identity theft varies from state to state. But what you do with the fake account you create and how it impacts the person you are impersonating is open to prosecution and damages throughout the country. If you’re using it to harass people or stalk or other crimes associated with the fake account you can definitely be held accountable for those as well. It also is very open to civil litigation. If you impacted someone’s reputation for example. Again experiencing embarrassment shivers just by the theoretical application of middle-aged people impersonating others on social media. It’s interesting because you go really hard on people Frank for being anonymous as cowardly. It’s hard to believe that you support people pretending to be other people and would see that behavior as anything other than cowardly
THE PATRIOTS WOULD LIKE A WORD WITH YOU, YOU OBNOXIOUS LITTLE PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT!!!!!!!
WE’RE SICK AND FUCKING TIRED OF THIS STUPID GUIDO NIGGER SHIT WITH YOU!!!!!!!
ALL THE FUCKING TIME WITH THIS GODDAMN CENSORSHIP WITH YOU, YOU FUCK!!!!!!
I’M SERIOUSLY ABOUT TO KICK THE SHIT OUT OF YOU!!!!!!
Colonel Ludlow, I knew of an old white colonel once, Harlan Sanders. He made the best chicken. Fried it up with 22 herbs and spices. Did you know him?
We, Guidos, loved it because it was finger-licking good.
Are you a Kentucky colonel?
Hello Mr. Anonymous.
Frankly, I like Richard Luthmann.
I think that most of his posts have been far more informative, and entertaining, than the posts made by anonymous idiots who are attacking both him and Frank for exposing this story.
As for saying that you don’t care about a middle-aged man making a fake Facebook Page, well, if he went to fucken prison for it (while a current SITTING judge didn’t) —– then it’s worthy of exploration.
All people engage in juvenile behavior for their own benefit, including yourself.
Welcome to the human race.
We all have egos and we all do juvenile things to gain perceived benefits.
The only difference is that some of us pretend otherwise.
I’m guessing that you’re a liberal idiot who fully supports Hillary Clinton for hiding top secret government emails on her own web server to circumvent FOIA laws (without being prosecuted).
Now that’s a juvenile task.
You probably also support Bill Clinton even though he was accused of sexually assaulting or harassing 6 women (without being prosecuted).
Why do you support him? Because of your own JUVENILE political views. 🙂
You probably also support the Antifa rioters who loot, riot, and burn down cities with impunity, without being prosecuted or even arrested.
The mainstream media chooses to reward such juvenile behavior and, in my opinion, that’s an example of silly journalism.
Yet, idiots like yourself choose to label Richard Luthmann’s story as ‘juvenile’ and an example of silly journalism?
If Richard was actually prosecuted for such a SMALL thing as faking a Facebook page (to help elect somebody who’s currently a judge) —- then exposing the judge is perfectly legit and does not ‘harm’ Frank’s standing as a journalist.
If Roger Stone was the judge here (instead of Castorina) —- you’d be screaming for his prosecution. LOL.
Now THAT’S a JUVENILE attitude, LOL.
Keep on reporting, Frank.
Don’t listen to the anonymous idiots who contradict themselves.
Have a nice day. 🙂
Tish James does not know how to go after Republicans not named TRUMP.
This guy has been a liar for years. No one liked him when he was an Assemblyman in Albany. He would have a meeting with other lawmakers, and then run to the floor of the Assembly and steal their ideas as his own. He did this to both Republicans and Democrats. No one is shedding a tear that he is being exposed as a fraud.
One thing he did that was honest was he came out of the closet. After he was elected judge, I am told, he told the voters he was gay. He ran for assembly in a conservative community, and he had to keep that secret for years. Finally, he came out, and so perhaps he will do the same with this spot of perjury on his record. Or perhaps he will admit he knew Luthman and was well aware of the Facebook page.
This Castorina guy is a criminal hack. Is he still on the bench? If it’s New York, probably. That place is a cesspool of corruption.
Ok, so it sounds like both Luthmann and the judge are guilty, and Luthmann is bitter because the judge got away with it and it all fell on Luthmann. So now Luthmann wants to take the judge down with him.
But suppose thhe judge threw Luthmann under the bus? What would you do?
So…Ratting on his former partner in crime? 2 snitches are better than one? Don’t get the narc logic here.
No honor among thieves.