‘Enforcer’ for New York lawyer’s alleged fraud scheme to be released on bail
A Brooklyn federal judge upheld $1.5 million bail and home detention on Tuesday for an alleged “enforcer” accused of threatening a man at gunpoint for money in a Staten Island lawyer’s scrap-metal fraud scheme.
Charged with kidnapping, extortion and gun possession, Michael Beck, 59, waved to his family members in court as he was escorted by U.S. marshals to a prosecutor-requested bail appeal hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Kim Penza argued that Beck was a danger to the community after allegedly leading a “double life” with ties to organized crime. Penza said, behind his family’s back, Beck had frequent communication with co-defendant George Padula, who allegedly claimed to have organized crime connections.
After Judge Jack Weinstein called up Beck’s wife and two brothers to hear their sides of the story, he upheld the conditions while adding a restriction that Beck couldn’t use any cellphones to contact criminals.
“That double life is going to be cut off in this moment, isn’t it?” Weinstein asked Beck’s wife, who quickly nodded in agreement. “It seems to me these bail restrictions are sufficient.”
Beck mouthed, “Thank you, Your Honor,” to the judge when he was told he would be granted release some time later on Tuesday.
As part of the scheme, prosecutors alleged that Beck threatened a partner at gunpoint in lawyer Richard Luthmann’s law office to pay up a $10,000 debt on Dec. 5, 2016.
With Padula, 29, and Stephen Cotogno, 48, Luthmann is accused of packing shipping containers with cheap materials to sell as scrap metal to local businesses, prosecutors said.
Known as a bow-tie-wearing eccentric who ran a failed 2013 Brooklyn borough president campaign, Luthmann now strictly wears prison attire with Padula, both awaiting possible bail packages.
Luthmann, Padula and Beck each face up to life in prison if convicted.
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