New York State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina, Jr. gave testimony before a grand jury in Staten Island, New York, in August 2018. The target was Richard Luthmann, an attorney who was allegedly involved in creating fake Facebook and other social media accounts to impersonate political figures.
Castorina’s grand jury testimony was mainly about his 2016 election and the use of a fake Facebook page targeting his opponent. Castorina had contacted attorney Richard Luthmann and suggested creating a fake Janine Materna site to expose her as a Democrat in Republican clothing.
Castorina won the primary, but ugly allegations from both sides marked the campaign. Materna blamed her loss on the fake Facebook page, which Luthmann was eventually indicted for and served time in prison.
Castorina’s potential perjury in the grand jury that indicted Luthmann is currently under investigation. Castorina had known about Luthmann’s fake social media activities in 2015 and during his 2016 campaign, despite saying he did not. Castorina had previously served as a New York State Assemblyman in a heavily Republican district.
Castorina’s testimony included claims that he did not know that the man he hired for political consulting, Richard Luthmann, had created a fake Facebook page to attack Materna. However, the grand jury was also shown messages that raised doubts about Castorina’s testimony and suggested Luthmann had been behind several political attacks in the past.
Castorina had previously expressed amusement at attacks Luthmann had made on Democratic officials, including a fake Twitter account for the Democratic Party Chairman John Gulino and a fake Facebook page for District Attorney Michael E. McMahon, a candidate in a 2015 election. Luthmann created a chart of the “Irish Mafia” associated with the McMahons.
The messages suggest that Castorina was aware of Luthmann’s methods, which included creating fake accounts to attack opponents. The messages raise questions about the veracity of Castorina’s testimony and the impartiality of the special prosecutor, Eric Nelson.