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Former NYC election lawyer pleads guilty to sexually harassing interns

The city’s former top board of elections attorney has pleaded guilty to abusing his office by harassing an intern and another subordinate, authorities said Thursday – allegedly gave them physical exams that included measuring parts of the body. bodies and groping them for personal pleasure.

Former BOE general counsel Steve Richman retired last year amid the misconduct investigation by the city’s Investigation Department.

Richman, 63, pleaded guilty in New York County Criminal Court to two counts of official misconduct, which are Class A misdemeanors. He received an absolute discharge as part of a plea deal with the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“This defendant exploited his position of authority with the BOE when he conditioned the potential future employment prospects of an intern he was supervising and another person to whom he offered potential employment, by responding to inappropriate requests to further their own personal interests,” DOI Commissioner Jocelyn said. strauber.

“This conduct is not only outrageous and shameful, it is criminal.”

Richman, who was responsible for hiring and supervising legal interns and other staff at the BOE – where he had worked since 1999 – convinced an intern he was supervising in the summer of 2017 that he could help the young man to get a job as a security guard at political events.

The catch: Richman said the trainee must first pass a so-called “fitness assessment” which he would administer at the BOE offices.

Richman performed the dummy physical test in an after-hours BOE office by measuring the trainee’s body parts and then placing the subordinate in wrestling holds. He then asked the younger man to place him in wrestling holds for his personal enjoyment and repeated the “assessment” multiple times, Strauber said.

“Richman had no immediate intention of securing the intern employment as a security guard and never took any steps to obtain such employment,” the DOI said in a press release.

Similarly, Richman persuaded another potential recruit in August 2020 that he could use his position to secure him a job as security guard at a political event if he passed a physical “assessment” – administered by the boss of the BOE.

Richman took photos during the physical test and “took no steps to secure the individual employment as a security guard,” DOI said.

His actions are the subject of a civil suit filed by a Columbia University student in Manhattan State Supreme Court in August last year, who alleged he was the victim of the August 2020 incident cited by DOI.

The student claimed Richman sexually harassed and choked him unconscious during the hours of physical testing, according to the suit.

Richman was employed by the BOE from January 1999 until his resignation in January 2021 amid this investigation. At that time, he was receiving a salary of $193,730.

Richman, in a statement, said, “Today I accepted responsibility for misusing the office of my New York City Board of Elections for improper political purposes. After serving on the Board of Elections for over 22 years, in court today, I admitted my lack of judgment. I sincerely apologize for this.

His attorney, Arnold Kriss, said “there was no sexual harassment or sexual misconduct” by his client.