A former New York City elections official admitted to having an intern and another subordinate perform "physical fitness assessments" — which included wrestling holds and body part measurements — in order to help them get jobs, according to court documents.
Steven Richman, the former general counsel of the NYC Board of Elections (BOE), pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of official misconduct in connection with the unauthorized exercise of his official duties, both of which were misdemeanors.
The city's Department of Investigation, working with the Manhattan district attorney's office, began investigating Richman in 2020, after receiving an anonymous complaint regarding inappropriate behavior he had with interns.
Richman was responsible for overseeing the legal interns and other staff at BOE in his position, according to the plea allocution. In summer 2017, he convinced an intern that he could help them get a job working security at political events — so long as the intern could pass a "physical fitness assessment," which he would administer.
That "assessment" took place after business hours in BOE offices, and involved measuring the intern's body parts, placing the intern in wrestling holds and then having the intern in-turn place him in wrestling holds, the plea allocution revealed. It was repeated several times afterward as well.
Despite what he told the intern, Richman had no intention of helping the individual get a job, nor did he take any steps to do so.
In a separate incident in Aug. 2020, Richman told another individual that he could use his position as general counsel to secure a job as a security guard, once again pending an "assessment." Richman and the individual went to BOE offices on Aug. 16, and after completing and interview and paperwork, Richman again performed the "assessment," involving similar actions, according to the plea deal.
In the 2020 incident, Richman took photos of the individual, but once again did not make any effort to secure them a job.
"This defendant exploited his position of authority with the BOE when he conditioned potential future job prospects for an intern he supervised, and another individual to whom he offered potential employment, on meeting improper demands to gratify his own personal interests," said DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber. "This conduct is not only outrageous and shameful; it is criminal."
As part of the plea deal, Richman was given an unconditional discharge, and will be required to report his conviction to the state supreme court.
Richman was employed by the BOE from Jan. 1999 until he resigned amid the investigation in Jan. 2021. At that time, Richman was receiving a salary of nearly $194,000.
Attorney information for Richman was not immediately available.