A man who called himself "Dr. Hunter" recruited young men for a fake intelligence agency, then "trained" them by whipping them and placing needles under their fingernails, a prosecutor said Friday.
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Lawrence Bottone of Stamford, Conn., was indicted on 29 charges including assault and criminal impersonation.
The New York charges come 15 years after Bottone was convicted in a similar case in Connecticut. He was sentenced to four years in prison on child pornography and assault charges after he was captured on videotape whipping and torturing teenage boys.
Bottone, who turns 52 on Saturday, had been a longtime teacher and coach in Norwalk and was the founder of a program called "Seeking Progress for All Reaching Children." When he was sentenced, his lawyer told the judge, "He can't tell you why he did what he did."
In the new case, Bottone allegedly recruited victims in public areas including the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, telling them about his "intelligence service." The indictment says he would then take them to what he called training sessions, where they would be stripped, blindfolded, whipped and have needles placed under their fingernails to prepare them in case they were ever captured, interrogated and tortured.
In at least one case, the training session occurred in a gym at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, where Bottone allegedly passed himself off as a professor.
One man complained to Westchester County police, who searched Bottone's car and found a "training kit" that included needles, rope, strapping tape and vegetable oil, the district attorney said.
Prosecutors said they had identified four victims and that the investigation was continuing.
Defense lawyer Kenneth Bunting declined to comment, his office said.
If convicted of the most serious charge, first-degree assault, Bottone could be sentenced to five to 25 years in prison. He is scheduled for arraignment next week.