The hearing for a Staten Island attorney accused of extortion, fraud and kidnapping on Wednesday started sounding like an old Abbott & Costello routine.
“Who’s a made member?” Brooklyn federal Judge Jack. B. Weinstein asked prosecutor Moira Kim Penza as she attempted to argue that lawyer Richard Luthmann and his co-defendants operated a scrap metal fraud scheme under the protective shadow of mafia muscle.
“None of them,” she responded.
Controversial lawyer arrested for kidnapping, extortion
Controversial Staten Island lawyer Richard Luthmann has been arrested in…
The answer only exasperated the already on-edge judge.
“They can’t be connected to an amorphous concept of mafia,” Weinstein shot back, growing tired of “Who’s on First?” routine.
But Weinstein grew even more impatient when Penza was unable to say which organized crime family the government thought to be involved.
Defense attorneys for all three men have said the mafia claim is bogus, with George Padula’s lawyer, Gerald McMahon, saying his client “is not connected, his family is not connected, this is a complete red herring that will taint this trial.”
Luthmann, Padula and others are accused of defrauding companies looking to purchase valuable recyclable scrap metal. They allegedly filled orders with cheap knock-offs instead.
While Luthmann — who once graced the front page of The Post, brandishing a sword and shield, after he challenged another lawyer to a “Game of Thrones”-style trial-by-combat-duel — allegedly set up the shell companies, Padula was recruited as muscle after he’d bragged about family connections to organized crime, the government says.
Prosecutors contend that Luthmann at one point lured a co-conspirator to his office, where his co-defendant Michael Beck allegedly pulled a gun and claimed the unnamed man owed him $10,000.
Documents have additionally accused the eccentric attorney of trying to have Staten Island Democratic Party exec Kevin Elkins whacked after Elkins barred him from entering a fundraiser.
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Luthmann, who was recently released on $1.5 million bond under restrictive conditions, will be allowed to use the law library when he visits the courthouse for check-ins, Weinstein said Wednesday.
“It’s not as if he’ll write notes [to people] in the margins of the books,” he quipped when Penza objected. “It’s a good place for him to be.”
The typically effusive Luthmann remained silent as he left court, standing beside defense attorney Arthur Aidala and sporting one of his many signature bow-ties.
“He’s screaming his innocence from the highest mountain of Staten Island,” Aidala said his client looked on approvingly, flashing a thumbs-up. “The best part of being released from prison was eating a plate of his mother’s chicken parmigiana and eggplant parmigiana.”
The trial is set to begin May 14. Weinstein has yet to rule on whether the men will be tried together, or separately.
Luthmann, Padula and Beck face up to life in prison if convicted.