‘My job is getting too easy’

All Patriot NewsFebruary 12, 20218min

A notorious defense lawyer running for Philadelphia district attorney said he knew the city’s criminal justice system was broken after he began winning too many cases.

“I’m not getting the thrill I used to get, I’ve never seen a string of non-guiltys before,” Republican district attorney candidate Charles Peruto told the Washington Examiner. “My job is getting too easy.”

Peruto announced his candidacy on Monday, blasting current Democratic District Attorney Larry Krasner as an out-of-touch and oblivious prosecutor who has let the city be overrun by criminals who take advantage of his restorative justice policies.

“I’m a Philadelphian, and I’ve always lived here. I was educated here and never left. It’s my city,” Peruto said. “I’ve never really seen it this bad, with the shootings and the guns. You’re always gonna see crime, but not like this.”

Peruto says he was a lifelong Democrat until 2017, when rising crime compelled him to switch parties. He added that he even voted for Krasner and wanted to give the liberal platform of lenient sentencing and deferred prosecutions a chance.

But Peruto told the Washington Examiner that criminals taking lenient plea deals or facing prosecutors seemingly uninterested in winning cases left him no choice but to join the GOP.

“I’m with my fellow defense attorneys every day, and they’re all down on their number of clients. Lawyers say to each other, ‘This Krasner is killing us.’ It sounds funny, it is funny, but it’s hurting the public. It’s not how much money I’m losing, I’m totally fine, I could retire,” Peruto said. “But the word is out. Criminals aren’t getting punishment. His office favors the public defenders. They all get the same deal, which is a better deal than if you just hired a lawyer. Word gets around rapidly on the street.”

Crime in Philadelphia sharply spiked in the last year, with shootings up 60{bb7f96def6ea40275edfc9c5cdba1e157486eb0adede12a05297cf43a9589e0a} over 2019. Krasner, who campaigned on radically overhauling the district attorney office, was boosted by nearly $1.5 million in donations from left-wing billionaire George Soros’s super PAC.

Philadelphia saw the third-highest number of murders in 2019 since 1980, leading to sharp criticism from former President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice. In a press conference this summer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain chastised Krasner’s office by claiming “this slaughter in our streets has largely been met with indifference.”

“I got in [the race] because I’m f—ing mad. How’s that?” Peruto responded when asked to summarize his rationale for running. “When you’ve done nothing but represent criminals for 40 years, as I have, you learn from them.”

Peruto says he earned the ” unanimous” endorsement from the Republican City Committee last Saturday. Philadelphia Republican Party chairwoman, state Rep. Martina White, called Peruto “a strong candidate with commonsense ideas” when asked about his candidacy in January.

To address crime, Peruto vows to bring back some of the 31 prosecutors Krasner fired when he took office in 2018. As part of Krasner’s restructuring of the district attorney’s office, he cut the number of lawyers assigned to homicide cases by a third.

“You have other cases that aren’t going to go away, like crimes of passion. A new DA isn’t going to reduce those. However, you have a homicide division that is so stretched that nothing is getting done the right way because there’s not enough manpower,” Peruto said. “I intend to hire an elite group of assistant DAs from Philadelphia. People need to know the area. I’m not hiring from Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, like Krasner, who boasts about it. You have to know Philadelphia when you’re picking your juries. You must do it. It’s absolutely essential.”

Aside from his many decades representing the accused, Peruto’s own experience on the other end of the criminal justice system deeply shaped the way he intends to balance fairness with holding wrongdoers responsible.

In 2014, Peruto was nearly indicted after his paralegal was found dead in a bathtub in his townhouse. For weeks, prosecutors investigated Peruto and summoned a grand jury to bring homicide charges against his former employee and girlfriend.

“I begged them, I pleaded with them,” Peruto said after the grand jury cleared him as a suspect. “There is no evidence of criminality. Please do this while my father is alive.” Peruto’s father died two months before the grand jury’s findings.

For all of his anger against what he sees as criminals running free in the streets, Peruto believes “treating addicts” remains far more humane than throwing them behind bars.

“But treating those who rob you, rape you? That’s bull—-,” he said.

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