Criminal Justice

Former elections GC pleads guilty to charges stemming from wrestling job seekers

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Updated: A former general counsel for the New York City Board of Elections has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for allegedly subjecting job seekers to a physical fitness assessment that included wrestling moves and measurement of body parts.

Steven H. Richman, 63, of Brooklyn, New York City, pleaded guilty to two counts of official misconduct June 2, according to a press release by the New York City Department of Investigation.

Law360 and the New York Post have coverage of the guilty plea, made in New York County criminal court.

Richman received an unconditional discharge as part of a plea agreement.

Richman was accused of conducting the assessments under the guise of helping two people, one of them an intern, obtain a job as a security guard at political events.

Richman performed the assessments at the board of elections offices outside normal business hours, according to the press release.

The intern’s assessment took place in summer 2017. It included “measuring the intern’s body parts, placing the intern in wrestling holds and having the intern place Richman in wrestling holds,” according to the press release. Richman repeated the assessment several times.

In a separate incident in August 2020, Richman convinced another person seeking a security guard job to undergo a similar assessment. This time, he took photos, the press release said.

Richman never took steps to help the intern or the other person obtain the security guard jobs, according to the press release.

The New York Post noted that a Columbia University student filed a civil suit last year alleging that Richman performed a physical test on him in August 2020 when he sought a security guard job.

The suit alleged that Richman demanded that the student perform pushups with Richman lying on top of him, the New York Post reported in a story last year. The student also said Richman twice put him in a chokehold, causing him to pass out the second time.

The student said the chokeholds left him with neck pain. He reported the incident to the New York City Department of Investigation.

Richman was the board of elections’ general counsel from 1999 to 2021.

Richman made a salary of $193,730 per year at the time of his resignation.

Richman gave a statement to the ABA Journal through a spokesperson.

“I sincerely apologize that on two occasions while serving the city of New York’s board of elections for more than 12 years, I used my government office for impermissible political purposes,” Richman said.

“I acknowledged this lapse in judgment in court [on Thursday]. Though I have used nongovernmental offices for the same political activities since 1987, I regret my misconduct and today have accepted responsibility for misusing a city of New York office.”

Richman’s lawyer told the New York Post that “there was no sexual harassment or sexual misconduct” committed by Richman.

Updated June 7 at 1:30 p.m. to include Steven H. Richman’s statement.

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