A New York woman who ran for the State Assembly and lost is accusing her Republican opponent, now the incumbent, of capitalizing on a fake social media account to sabotage her campaign, and she's alleging one of his longtime friends threatened her online.
“It’s cyber harassment. It’s absolutely disgusting. It’s more than bullying. My life was threatened,” Janine Materna told News 4.
Materna ran as a Republican for a State Assembly seat on the south shore of Staten Island in last year's primary. She lost her race to Assemblyman Ron Castorina and now says part of the reason is the fake Facebook account created in her name.
Materna says Castorina capitalized on the fake page, which made it seem like she was friends with Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and that she'd made fun of disabled kids.
"It showed complete malice and deceit," Materna said.
The Staten Island District Attorney’s Office has assigned an independent special prosecutor to look at whether attorney Richard Luthmann, a longtime friend of Castorina, made the Facebook page.
The special prosecutor is also investigating images posted to Luthmann's Facebook page this week that reference Materna and depict animated characters with guns. Materna said the posts were threats against her.
Luthmann said Materna is overreacting.
“If there are cartoon ray guns and Elmer Fudd that are threatening images, it just goes to show that she doesn’t have the temperament needed for public office,” Luthmann told News 4 by phone.
Assemblyman Castorina also responded to the allegations on Thursday, saying he had no knowledge of the Facebook page and is not under investigation.
“I’ll let that all play out,” Castorina told News 4. “You can make your own decisions. But, frankly, this is between him and her.”
Castorina got a boost from Staten Island Rep. Dan Donovan, who vouched for his character Wednesday.
"I don't know all the facts. I do know the character of the man who's standing to the left of me. I support Ron Castorina," Donovan said.
Both the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office and the independent prosecutor declined comment on the investigation.