Back in December, I interviewed Democratic candidate for District Attorney Carlos Vega here, so I reached out to Republican candidate for DA Charles “Chuck” Peruto. I also reached out to current DA Larry Krasner, but his office has not yet responded.
Peruto is a well-known and successful defense lawyer. I asked him why he was running for DA.
“I’m a homeowner and my entire extended family lives in Philadelphia, along with my son and grandchildren,” he replied.
“I can be a trial lawyer to make a living, but I’m very concerned about public safety. I don’t want anything to happen with my grandchildren, my son, my wife, or myself.”
What is your primary issue with Krasner?
“Public safety. He wants to talk about bail reform and criminal justice reform. How about keeping us safe? That’s your job.
“If Carlos Vega wins, then my mission is accomplished. We got everybody out of the Democratic primary because usually there are four or five people running and the incumbent wins. So we all got together, and I made some phone calls. Carlos is a former prosecutor, so I thought he had the best chance to win. He is like my brother now. We’ve done about 15 appearances together and Krasner has not shown up for any of them. I figure he has enough money in the bank to pay for ads and live commercials. He’s a pompous guy who thinks he has this in the bag.
“If Carlos loses, I’m going to kick Krasner’s ass.”
Word gets around quickly in the criminal element and the word is that you don’t need to pay an expensive private lawyer, because you are going to get the same deal with the public defender.
As a defense attorney, Peruto has defended some notorious clients, including a serial killer and several organized crime figures. I asked him if this will hurt his chances in the race.
“Normally, I think it would, but we have a civil rights attorney against a criminal defense lawyer. And a criminal defense lawyer who is endorsed by everybody in law enforcement.”
Peruto has the support of Mike Chitwood, Ron Castille, and a good number of other law enforcement people, as well as Richard Sprague, a Philadelphia trial legend, both as a prosecutor and defense attorney (prior to his death).
“The first thing I will do is to go after the drug organizations. They are responsible for in excess of half of the city’s homicides. These people are fighting for territory because those territories have become very lucrative, as the penalties have gone down. When people want to take someone’s territory, they don’t take it by winning a card game. They shoot it out.”
Peruto believes homicide and gun violence are on the rise because Krasner has not prosecuted street crimes vigorously enough.
Is Krasner soft on crime?
“It’s not that Krasner is soft on crime. He is ridiculously soft on crime. This is unparalleled. In the beginning, the defense lawyers were all happy. We can negotiate all of our cases and we won’t have to go to trial. We won’t have to work anymore, in other words. Well, that turned into we’re all out of a job. Word gets around quickly in the criminal element and the word is that you don’t need to pay an expensive private lawyer, because you are going to get the same deal with the public defender.
“Krasner counts that as criminal justice reform. The reason the deal will not get any better is because it is already ridiculously low. These guys are in and out of jail. They plead guilty and wrap their VOP – violation of probation – as they are on probation for the same crime, into the case. They get a new probation, and they are out the door again.”
The mayor literally forbids the police from calling ICE when they arrest someone who they know is illegal. If that is the case under my administration, I will issue an arrest warrant for Jim Kenney for obstruction of justice.
I asked about Philadelphia as a sanctuary city and if he would report illegal immigrants who commit crimes to ICE.
“In no uncertain terms. I have no issue with illegal aliens being protected in Philadelphia. However, if an illegal alien commits one of the big five – rape, robbery, murder, burglary or arson – without question – I am going to require that ICE be contacted so they can put a retainer on them. So, if some liberal judge wants to give them low bail, they are not going to get out. I’m not fooling around, after they do the time they owe us for the crime, they are going to get deported.
“The mayor literally forbids the police from calling ICE when they arrest someone who they know is illegal. If that is the case under my administration, I will issue an arrest warrant for Jim Kenney for obstruction of justice. That is the law, and if he forbids somebody from obeying the law, he is obstructing justice.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series. In part two, Charles Peruto discusses his views of Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, and alleged crimes against businesses.
Paul Davis’ Crime Beat column appears here each week. He can be contacted via pauldavisoncrime.com.