New York State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castorina, Jr.’s testimony about his 2016 Republican primary election campaign against Janine Materna for the NYS 62nd Assembly District was larded with lies.
The testimony came as part of the prosecution of Richard Luthmann, who created a fake Facebook page that mocked, lampooned, and impersonated Materna. Materna claimed that Castorina had a hand in digital “smear tactics” and had used the fake page to ruin her campaign and cause her defeat.
Castorina testified before a grand jury on August 1, 2018. Frank Parlato’s article examines his testimony and contrasts it with never-before-published evidence. Special Prosecutor Eric Nelson had convened the grand jury to indict Luthmann for felony charges of falsifying Facebook business records, identity theft, criminal impersonation, election law violations, and digital stalking.
Parato’s article discusses the legal implications of Castorina’s testimony. Ultimately, Luthmann was prosecuted, and there were no First Amendment concerns raised by the incompetent Special Prosecutor. Castorina was not the target of the prosecution, and the most important thing for him was to get out of the way.
Staten Island Supreme Court Ronald Castorina may potentially face charges of perjury in the first degree after he testified under oath before a grand jury that he did not know that political consultant and lawyer Richard Luthmann was planning to create a fake Facebook page to discredit his primary opponent, Janine Materna.
However, Facebook Messenger messages between Castorina and Luthmann, subpoenaed by Special District Attorney Nelson, indicated that Castorina had indeed collaborated with Luthmann on the strategy and requested his help in smearing his opponent on social media.
Castorina allegedly gave Luthmann instructions and even joked about Kevin Elkins, a staffer for McMahon’s campaign, who Luthmann was attacking through the fake McMahon Facebook page. Castorina allegedly told Luthmann to “go easy on the kid, he just lost his mom.” Luthmann replied that Kevin Elkins would have no future once he was done with him, to which Castorina said the smart criminals pay decoys to do it, and he should continue torturing Elkins on Facebook.
Castorina and Luthmann also discussed searching for a picture of Janine Materna with Hillary Clinton to use on the fake Facebook page.
Justice Ronald Castorina, Jr. committed perjury in the first degree when he testified that Luthmann never indicated that he was going to make a fake Facebook page and that any communications with Luthmann were unwanted. The evidence from the Facebook Messenger messages suggests that Castorina knew about Luthmann’s plan to make the page 11 months before the election and that he had even sought Luthmann’s expertise to help with his own social media strategy.
Castorina asked Luthmann to help him get an endorsement on a third-party ballot line, and he wanted to sit down with Luthmann to discuss the strategy. Luthmann asked if he wanted the Reform Line, to which Castorina replied, “yes, the Astorino line.”
The case against Castorina is not only about whether he committed perjury but also about whether he violated the code of ethics for judges. If he is found guilty of perjury, he could face a class D felony, which could lead to his removal from the bench, disbarment, and a prison sentence. If he is found to have violated the code of ethics, he could face disciplinary action by the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct.
The case is a reminder of the importance of transparency and integrity in judicial proceedings and of the serious consequences that can result from failing to uphold them.