Lawyer’s mob-tied pal denied bail after guns and mine found in home
A Brooklyn federal judge denied bail to an alleged partner of the eccentric and now-jailed Staten Island lawyer Richard Luthmann on Friday after the feds found 23 guns and a landmine in his family home.
Prosecutors found the stockpile of weapons and expletive-laden prison calls between George Padula III and his parents after he was charged in December for wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.
Padula, 29, allegedly got mixed up in a scrap metal fraud scheme with Luthmann that included threatening a partner, who turned government cooperator, at gunpoint. While Luthmann remains jailed, also accused of plotting the murder of Kevin Elkins, former executive director of the Staten Island Democratic Committee, Padula made his attempt for freedom in court.
“I find that Mr. Padula is a danger to the community,” said Judge Viktor Pohorelsky, triggering sighs from Padula’s mother in the audience.
The judge said based on the new evidence, including the prison calls, it was clear that Padula and his gun-licensed father were likely involved in organized crime.
Pohorelsky specifically cited one call between Padula and his mother where when irritated about his private investigator, he yelled, “If I was out and I wasn’t in here none of them would have the gall to pull this s—t.”
As part of the proposed $1.5 million bail, Padula would have been required to live in a newly rented apartment with his mother and have no contact with his father.
When he realized his parents had to rent the apartment, Padula previously screamed to his father over a Metropolitan Detention Center phone, “Rent the god—n c–k-su—-g mo—- fu—-g apartment,” according to a court detention memo.
The memo also showed that upon seizure of Padula’s home, where he lived with his parents, agents found the guns, a ski mask, vest plates, ammo and a landmine in a locker at the foot of his bed.
“The record is far more extensive now,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Kim Penza said, arguing for Padula’s detention. “Mr. Padula is the violent person that the government has said he is.”
Guns aside, Judge Pohorelsky said he was also concerned about a letter found in Padula’s room from convicted Luchese crime-family member, Joseph Cutaia. The letter allegedly promised that once Cutaia was out of jail, Padula will have “it all,” “Money GIRLS respect.”
Penza also cited recorded calls from 2012 that show Padula and his father plotting to sell guns as well as engage in a separate cigarette fraud scheme.
As the pair were never arrested for the conduct, defense attorney James Froccaro called the allegations “form without substance.”
“There’s no proof of it!” Froccaro said flailing his arms around. “In my experience, the government arrests you when you’ve committed a crime.”
Froccaro further rebutted any allegations of the criminal activity, telling the judge Padula’s father is a schoolteacher in his 60s.
Padula is charged with packing shipping containers with cheap materials to sell as scrap metal with Luthmann and others. As part of the scheme, prosecutors allege he threatened a partner with Michael Beck, 59, for $10,000 in Luthmann’s law office.
However, Beck is the one charged with holding the gun to the man’s head and knee. He was released on $1.5 million bail on Jan. 2 by Judge Jack Weinstein.
Luthmann, Padula and Beck each face up to life in prison if convicted. The trio are expected to go to trial on May 14.