Peruto lashes out at D.A. in investigation of tub girl's death

Posted: February 14, 2014

PROMINENT DEFENSE lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. - whose 26-year-old girlfriend was found dead in his Rittenhouse Square bathtub in May - contends that the District Attorney's Office didn't write a report following a grand jury investigation into her death because it would embarrass someone the D.A. knows.

"It's the oldest trick," Peruto said in an interview yesterday with the Daily News. "If the grand jury didn't take you where you thought it would take you, you either bury the report or don't write one."

Peruto also lashed out at D.A. Seth Williams in a Facebook post, calling him an obscenity.

Williams said yesterday he could not confirm or deny anything to do with any grand jury investigation.

Asked if he had any comment with regard to Peruto's name calling, Williams simply said, "No, I don't."

"What killed her, why was I targeted, and why was a grand jury necessary?" Peruto wrote on his Facebook page soon after the D.A.'s Office issued a one-sentence statement Wednesday saying it concluded its investigation into Julia Papazian Law's death and found "no evidence of criminal activity."

"As I said months ago, we will never know what happened, because the D.A. will have to embarrass his friend and contributor," Peruto, 58, wrote on Facebook. "Vote this power tripping bum out of office! I hope you sue me you fat -----," he added.

Peruto's Facebook comments were reported by Philadelphia magazine Wednesday.

Law was a paralegal in Peruto's Center City office. She had dated Peruto - her boss - for nearly six weeks up until her death.

The "friend and contributor" Peruto was referring to is lobbyist John Hawkins, 42.

Hawkins, vice president for city relations at Center City consulting firm S. R. Wojdak & Associates, is the person Peruto says was the married man with whom Law apparently had a secret, six-year affair, which overlapped his relationship with her.

The grand-jury report, if one were written, "is not going to have one scintilla of evidence of criminality against me," Peruto said.

But, he said, "it could be embarrassing to [Hawkins]," because it would detail Hawkins' relationship with Law.

Williams, asked about Peruto's allegations, said: "I'm not going to react to that. That's nonsensical."

Hawkins declined to comment yesterday.

Peruto said Williams put him through "nine months of hell" since Law's death and wasted taxpayers' money on the grand-jury investigation.

Peruto was in Avalon, N.J., on May 25 when Law's body was found by a maintenance worker. To Peruto's shock, the D.A. launched the grand-jury investigation, which he considered a "vendetta" against him because he is a veteran defense lawyer.

Williams yesterday called Law's death "tragic" and said if his office hadn't investigated, people would wonder why it didn't.

"We never said we were going to investigate anyone in particular," he said. "The laws, the ethics of what we do, of how we handle grand juries precludes me from saying anything more than that."

Police have said Law was alone in Peruto's apartment when she died. Several news organizations have reported that Law had a blood-alcohol level several times above the legal limit to drive.

Peruto has said that the city Medical Examiner's Office and a toxicological study both found shortly after Law's death that it was accidental and the result of alcohol poisoning.

Jeff Moran, spokesman for the Medical Examiner's Office, said yesterday that the manner of death had been ruled "accidental" and the cause was "drowning." When asked if these rulings were made last year, he said no, and would only say that "the case was unpended [Wednesday]."

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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