The two defendants could not be reached for comment last night.
Perzel's spokesman, Steve Drachler, said the two apparently had been working for GOP committeeman John Walls and his wife, Margaret, who were paid $7,090 between June and October 1999 by Perzel's campaign fund for "campaign help."
The Walls also run a 120-bed drug-rehabilitation program in Kensington called Fresh Start Now, Drachler said. Both defendants told authorities they had been enrolled in drug rehab at some unspecified time, according to the arrest warrant.
The Walls' operation was part of Perzel's effort to fight a Democratic registration campaign by then-mayoral candidate Marty Weinberg, who was seeking support from conservatives in his 1999 mayoral primary battle with John F. Street.
"Mr. Perzel has made it very clear to anyone in his political organization that they are to obey the law and follow the rules," said Drachler, who said he was not aware of any inquiries to Perzel himself by the District Attorney's Office.
Abookire would not say whether the arrests ended the investigation. She said the matter had been referred to Abraham's office on Feb. 24 by Bob Lee, voter-registration administrator with the City Commissioners' Office.
Lee has said that the probe started when a man showed up at the commissioners' office to complain about a Philadelphia voter ID card on which his signature had been forged.
His office turned over four questionable registration cards, and authorities used handwriting analysis to document that two were forgeries, according to the arrest warrants.
The City Commissioners' Office is currently overseeing a recount of Perzel's narrow victory a week ago over Democrat Mark Chilutti, which is to resume today with officials' opening the voting machines. Democrats yesterday tipped reporters about the arrests, which had not been announced by the district attorney.
"We do sometimes announce arrests, but we don't consider two voter-registration cards a high-profile case," Abookire said.
Ken Dilanian's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org