Montgomery County D.A.'s Office to review Perelman complaint

Posted: August 24, 2012

Montgomery County authorities will review the millionaire philanthropist Raymond Perelman's claim that his son illegally altered the death certificate for Perelman's wife, the county's top prosecutor said Wednesday.

District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman declined to discuss the allegation but said her office would process it like any other private criminal complaint.

In such cases, Ferman said, county investigators first determine whether the alleged act occurred within their jurisdiction, then whether the claim warrants criminal investigation or prosecution.

Raymond Perelman's complaint was the latest salvo in a feud between the 95-year-old family patriarch and his 63-year-old son, Jeffrey, both renowned benefactors of cultural and community organizations across the region.

On Wednesday, a family friend who has been speaking on behalf of Jeffrey Perelman called his father's accusation "outrageous," baseless, and hurtful to the family.

Raymond Perelman's complaint accuses his son of record-tampering and engaging in document deception when he and a lawyer allegedly persuaded a funeral director last year to amend the home address listed on Ruth Perelman's death certificate. She died in July 2011 at 90.

Her husband said he supplied the information for the death certificate and listed the couple's Palm Beach, Fla., home as their primary residence.

Perelman contends their son and lawyer John T. Boxer told the funeral director in August 2011 to switch the address to the couple's Rittenhouse Square house, a change the senior Perelman maintains could cause him "significant financial harm."

According to the complaint, Ruth Perelman routinely voted in Florida and the couple received property-tax abatements there after declaring "under the penalty of perjury" that it was their home state. The document did not offer a possible motive for his son to change the death certificate.

Raymond Perelman said he made his charges in Montgomery County because Philadelphia prosecutors declined to consider the case. Jeffrey Perelman is a resident of Wynnewood.

Anne Gordon, the family friend who said she spoke on Jeffrey Perelman's behalf, responded to the complaint Wednesday with a statement: "This action by Raymond Perelman was both hurtful and outrageous to his family and Ruth's memory. It is disturbing that The Inquirer would allow itself to be used by Raymond Perelman by publishing such unsubstantiated, defamatory, and damaging statements to this community-minded family, especially when the Philadelphia D.A.'s Office has already rejected these baseless allegations."

Gordon, a former managing editor of The Inquirer, also said, "Jeffrey Perelman intends to protect his good name and will take every lawful means to hold all parties accountable for these actions."

Boxer has declined to comment. His law firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, on Wednesday called the complaint "entirely without merit, just like the one the Philadelphia D.A. previously opted not to prosecute."

Ferman did not say how long her review would take.

State rules of criminal procedure require prosecutors to act "without unreasonable delay" in deciding whether to move forward on a private criminal complaint.

If prosecutors decline to pursue the matter, the complainant can appeal to a Common Pleas Court judge, the rules say.


Contact John P. Martin at 215-854-4774, at jmartin@phillynews.com or follow @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

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