There was a day of destiny for Ronald Castorina, Jr.
That date was August 1, 2018, when the then-Republican New York State Assemblyman from Staten Island cleared himself of a scandal and possibly criminal charges and cleared the way for his election to the State Supreme Court.
To do so, Judge Castorina needed to distance himself from an attorney named Richard Luthmann, the target of a 2018 grand jury investigation into fake Facebook pages.
The Facebook page at issue was one made to target Castorina’s 2016 primary opponent, Janine Materna.
The page mimicked Materna’s page and presented misinformation about her that would rile up conservative Republican voters.
Materna blamed her loss in the Republican primary on the fictitious Facebook page.
According to Castorina’s 2018 grand jury testimony, he knew little or nothing about the Facebook page. He had nothing to do with its creation or administration or any of its contents.
[The veracity of that aspect of his testimony we will examine in a subsequent post].
However, to convince the grand jury he had nothing to do with the fake Facebook page, he had to convince them he hardly knew Luthmann, the page’s administrator.
Castorina testified he avoided, barely knew, and did not like Luthmann. By stating this, he likely avoided becoming a fellow target of the prosecution, leaving Luthmann as the sole target.
Was Castorina telling the truth? Or lying so the grand jury might not believe he was a coconspirator on the allegedly illegal, fake Facebook page.
After all, if he did lie, one can understand Castorina’s fear. He, not Luthmann, was the sole beneficiary of the fake Facebook page. It targeted his, not Luithmann’s opponent.
Bad Penny in the Basket
The reason for this inquiry is not to defend Luthmann, a writer for Frank Report, but to determine if we have a man on the bench who lied to get there.
In his 2018 sworn grand jury testimony, Castorina said:
A. Mr. Luthmann was like a bad penny in the church collection basket. He would show up uninvited at a variety of events as a Democrat to Republican events, or to Independent — I guess independent parties; events all over the spectrum.
He would infuse himself and be present.
A Pot Stirrer Looking to Create Problems
Judge Castorina said Luthmann would “get involved in a variety of political races… he’d be kind of a pot stirrer.”
A. So, Mr. Luthmann, from what I had seen, like to put himself — get involved in a variety of political races on Staten Island. And what I mean by getting involved is he’d be kind of a pot stirrer.
He’d be somebody that was looking to create problems, issues. He — he kind of enjoy this type of situation.
Engaged in Topics in the News
Castorina said Luthmann would send “messages that were somewhat topical.”
A. He may have. You know, he would send — he would send messages that were somewhat topical based on what was going on in the news at a particular time.
Wanted Nothing to Do with Him
Castorina admitted he spoke with Luthmann on Facebook Messenger. He had to admit that, for the grand jury had some, but conveniently not all, of the screenshots as evidence of that.
Castorina said he messaged him, but only reluctantly. He never wanted to deal with Luthmann.
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 to do with this person, but this person keeps coming back.
Castorina further testified that any communications Luthmann had with him were “unwanted.”
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, complainer. 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.
Do Castorina’s Facebook Messages Support his Testimony?
Castorina’s Facebook Messenger conversations with Luthmann were many and covered a period of years.
Perhaps if Castorina was not a judge, we might excuse his testimony as the breed of falsity of petty little men who seek to avoid danger to themselves by wholesale denials of the truth, by lying outright, or by omission. He had the motive to lie since telling the truth would not likely help Luthmann but possibly get him into trouble.
Castorina was not a judge at the time but a state assemblyman. If he did lie, his lies helped catapult him into a judgeship. Perhaps the end justified the means.
But to be candid and blunt, the Facebook private messenger conversations between Luthmann and Castorina show evidence that Castorina lied without dignity or remorse.
He began communicating on Messenger with the man he sought to avoid as early as 2013 – three years before the fake Facebook page appeared against Castorina’s opponent and five years before he testified he hardly knew but did not like Luthmann.
There were many messages between the two men.
Here is a sampling.
In October 2013, Castorina congratulated Luthmann on officiating his sister’s wedding.
Castorina: Hey buddy – congrats on your sisters wedding. Check out this website http://www.getmarriedny.com. There’s a market for this stuff- idk how you pull it off- but you never cease to amaze me. Lol there’s money to be made here!!! Lol. Hope all is well. Call me when you are free to catch up.
Luthmann: I want to package the Las Vegas deal… Pre-Nup, Wedding and Annulment (hold license in escrow for 5 days) all in one!
Castorina: I love it lol
As an aside, why would Castorina initiate a congratulatory comment to a man he sought to avoid and invite him to call him?
A Tale of Two Chairmans
In 2015, Castorina and Luthmann, both attorneys, shared a client.
His name is Larry Gilder. Gilder was also Luthmann’s driver.
Castorina and Luthmann took turns using Gilder as their political operative. Luthmann deployed Gilder in a battle against then-Democrat Party Chairman John Gulino, a battle that also benefited Castorina.
Gilder sued Gulino, with Luthmann as his attorney.
Former Staten Island Democrat Party Chairman John Gulino and the pretender “Chairman” Larry Gilder
Gulino was the chairman of the Democratic Committee of Richmond County, which, like most committees, is non-incorporated.
It may not be to his credit, though some say “all is fair in love and politics,” Luthmann formed a “shadow entity,” the Democratic Committee of Richmond County, Inc., and named Gilder as Chairman.
It was not an official part of the Democratic Party.
But Luthmann created Gilder’s platform, then paraded Gilder around Staten Island at various events as the ‘Chairman’ of the Democratic Committee of Richmond County, Inc.
‘Chairman’ Gilder’s platform was simple and was called “Free the Weed,” which was essentially a three-pronged platform:
- Marijuana legalization
- No urine tests at work
- Ten percent raises for all city employees, paid for with the money raised by marijuana legalization.
It was meant to lampoon the Democratic Party, and the real County Chairman, Gulino, most of all.
Another of Gilder’s platforms was “build the wall” and a supposed democrat supporting Trump.
Chairman Gulino wasn’t amused, but Gulino’s political rivals, including Castorina, were.
At the time, Castorina was a Republican Commissioner of the New York City Board of Elections for Richmond County.
Castorina messaged Luthmann that he liked faux Chairman Gilder’s January 2015 “Public Service Announcement.”
Castorina then invited Luthmann to dinner – his treat – a surprising gesture for a man seeking to avoid Luthmann at all costs.
Luthmann: The Chairman [Gilder] gave the Advance [The Staten Island Advance, the main newspaper of Staten Island] an interview today.
Castorina: I can’t wait to read about it. I think he’s a swell guy. Great letter btw. I’m sure it went over like a lead balloon. Lol
Luthmann: The best part is he was questioned about his support for the Second Amendment.
Castorina: Is he an NRA member yet?
Luthmann: And he went off…”NRA 1 – America 0″
Castorina: i knew it! Lol Checking it out now
Castorina: A great PSA! I love the hat! He’s a very charming chairman- I think he is very like able.
He’s prob be a good fundraiser.
Luthmann: Yeah…for Donovan…lol
Everyone on the South Shore will write a check!
Castorina: Lol- tell Larry I said hello! Btw- I wana do dinner next week- if you’re around. It my treat- u pick place.
Luthmann: I’m in the UK next week… Will have to be in a couple of weeks
Larry says hi and wants to know when you’re going to cut the check.
Castorina: Lol- well have fun in the UK barrister!
Luthmann: Larry got a new outfit. Maybe Gulino will give him an interview now.
Castorina: lmfao [In My Fucking Arrogant Opinion], i dont know what to say- but im laughing my ass off ha ha ha ha ha
Castorina’s Turn: Gilder v. Cuomo
Not to be outdone by Luthmann’s fun, or if you prefer, mischief with Gulino, Castorina had his turn to use Gilder as a Plaintiff in a lawsuit.
Castorina included Gilder in his case against former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo to compel a special election for the Staten Island Congressional seat vacated by Michael Grimm due to his federal conviction.
Luthmann reviewed Castorina’s legal papers, and they discussed local political matters.
Castorina: Well done opinion piece. I expected to see more comments. Gulino must be doubled over right now. The hits just keep on comin’ lol
Luthmann: screw him
i’m going to email it to the entire county committee
Castorina: Of course you are- I’d expect no less. What do you think of my complaint? I’ll email you my memo of law later on too.
Luthmann: it’s good…technical…makes the argument turn on “shall”
what does shall mean?
if the Governor can pocket the special indefinitely, shall has no meaning
i would have added tax argument…so Larry could call for his brethren to stop paying taxes…
Castorina: Exactly- I make the point using the relevant circuit ct case law and supremacy clause in my memo.
Luthmann: no taxation without representation
We’ll dress Larry up like an Indian and have him throw lipton into the Kill Van Kull
Castorina: Three cornered hats only
Castorina: Lol classic shot
So Castorina, the man who testified he found Luthman “crazy” and akin to a bad penny in the church collection box, a man seeking to cause trouble which went against the grain of the upright and ethical Castorina, sought this bad penny Luthmann to review his legal brief in a lawsuit and get his advice.
Then laughed about the photo of faux Indians at the Boston Tea Party.
My Friend, ‘Chief Judge’ Castorina
In another series of messages, Luthmann told Castorina he would nominate him as Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court in Albany, New York.
Luthmann appears to have been kidding because he also said he was nominating Larry Gilder for the same post.
Luthmann’s insinuation tickled Castorina. He was so “fond of his friend” he suggested: “Dinner and drinks soon!”
Luthmann: Chief Judge Castorina
Castorina: Lol- is that a nomination rich? Lol
Luthmann: Could be…I’m having Larry put one in too…
Chief Judge Larry
A chicken in every pot and Hennessy in every glass!
Castorina: You have no limits- and that’s what makes me find of you my friend!!! Dinner and drinks soon!
Three years later, Castorina testified Luthmann was a bad penny who would show up uninvited, looking to create problems, who enjoyed being a pot stirrer.
Castorina testified Luthmann was a man he would ignore or placate to get away from, a man he didn’t want to talk to and wanted nothing to do with, a person who kept coming back, an unwanted crazy bad penny and complainer.
A man to whom Castorina said, “You have no limits – and that’s what makes me fond of you my friend!!! Dinner and drinks soon!”
Dinner and drinks, and tell him you’re fond of him. That’s the ticket for the avoidance of bad pennies.
In July 2015, attorney Luthmann was engaged in litigation with the New York City Board of Elections. At that time, Castorina was one of the City’s ten elections commissioners.
When Luthmann sued the Board of Elections, Castorina remarked how Luthmann could “separate litigation from friendship,” making him “a true friend.”
Luthmann was in Buffalo when Castorina gave him recommendations for restaurants.
Castorina and Luthmann also discussed their favorite Larry Gilder cases against Gulino and Cuomo.
Luthmann: Spoke to your buddy Steve Kitzinger the other day. He sounded like I peed in his Cheerios. Steve: “You sued my client today.”. Me: “Yep. I’ve been known to do that.”. I like Steve. Smart guy.
Castorina: Lol- the fact that you and I can separate litigation from friendship makes you a true friend. I hope you are enjoying my old stomping grounds in buffalo! Duffs has better wings than the anchor bar and Jims Steak Out is awesome!!!!
Castorina: They left out who mr. Gilder’s attorney is….. Great picture of him.
Luthmann: I heard the Post thinks its Ron Castorina.
Larry already has it printed out and laminated… unequivocal proof that he is a LOVER… the NY Post said it.
Castorina: Lol- I loved that article. It’s mostly true- that’s the said [sad] part
Luthmann: Political acumen…
The one and only Chairman.
The best part is that your lawsuit against Cuomo establishes Larry as a political activist.
Castorina: Yes- it truly does lol
Trial By Combat
In July 2015, Castorina was one of the first to read Luthman’s legal brief requesting Trial By Combat against an opposing lawyer, filed in the New York State Supreme Court.
The case gained international attention, eventually landing Luthmann on the front page of the New York Post.
Thereafter, Luthmann was called the “Game of Thrones” lawyer. Castorina was evidently a fan.
Luthmann: My case on today.
You’ll get a kick out of this.
Castorina [after reading it]: Probably the most amusing affirmation I have ever read. You had me at “comic book affirmation” – but then “trial by combat”……… I nearly pissed my pants. Lmfao. Who is this case before ?
Trial by Combat
More to Come…
These conversations between Castorina and Luthmann predate the “Fake Facebook” controversy.
FR has additional communications from 2015- 2017 between Castorina and Luthmann, explicitly referring to “Fake Facebook” pages created during those election cycles.
FR will publish those communications in a subsequent article.
We are investigating Castorina’s alleged perjury, not the rightness or wrongness or even the legality of making imposter Facebook pages – something I condemn.
But I also condemn a beneficiary of the caper throwing his friend under the bus and not only winning the election but also advancing to becoming a judge while his friend goes to prison.
The Golden Ring
Judge Castorina gave testimony to the grand jury in 2018. For that, he received a place on the bench.
In part because of Judge Castorina’s testimony, Luthmann was convicted of felonies in New York State and served years in prison.
Comparing Castorina’s grand jury testimony about his relationship with Luthmann with Castorina’s texts, Messenger, phone, and in-person meetings with Luthmann show evidence of perjury.
We have not gotten to the evidence concerning Castorina’s role in the Facebook page he benefited from.
That’s coming in a subsequent post.
There is a day of destiny in men’s lives. For Judge Castorina, that day may have been August 1, 2018, when he testified before a grand jury and denied his friend.
The destiny of that day launched him high like a glowing meteor, to be the judge of men and law. It may see him yet fall to earth, exposed as a man whose sensibilities and ethics are not to be admired any more than a petty cheat who lied when the test of truth was thrust upon him.