Charles Peruto Jr. has made a fortune as one of Philadelphia's top defense attorneys representing high-profile criminal suspects for decades.
Yet he is most known for an investigation into himself after a young woman who Peruto was dating was found dead in his Rittenhouse Square mansion in Center City in 2013.
Now, Peruto says he wants to enter politics and flip his position within Philadelphia's criminal justice system. He announced his candidacy for district attorney in an effort that he admits has one goal: to remove the current DA, Larry Krasner, from office.
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Peruto will run as a Republican in a city where registered Democrats outnumber GOP voters by nearly 8-to-1. He said the Republican Party endorsed him over the weekend, but the party's leadership was not present at his announcement Tuesday and has not issued a statement showing Peruto support.
A message left for the city Republican Party was not returned.
"I wanted to do it in front of our Justice Center and the revolving doors behind me because that’s a symbol of our Justice Center," Peruto said. "In and out, people laughing, (saying) 'Beat my case. It was a layup,' things like that. This city is a disgrace We have a public defender disguised as a district attorney."
Peruto said the death of the young woman inside his home will surely come up during the campaign in the months ahead, but he noted that the investigation into her death proved that he was not involved, or at home, when she died.
"People love gossip," he said. "(But) I was 80 miles away, proven scientifically from a video of a place I was."
Despite his long, successful career as a defense attorney, Peruto said he wants the Philadelphia district attorney's office to be tougher on crime than it has been under Krasner.
"I might be labeled as a defense lawyer but I’m a citizen first. We haven’t gotten to the root of the problem," Peruto said. "If you don’t think punishment is a deterrent to crime, then leave, because you’re stupid."
Peruto made it clear that he is less interested in becoming district attorney than he is in trying to get Krasner out of the DA's office. He said he will drop his Republican candidacy if Krasner loses in the Democratic primary.
"It's not about Chuck Peruto. It's about Philadelphia," he said. "It's about getting Larry Krasner out of there."
Krasner's campaign was not immediately available for comment.
Former city homicide prosecutor, Carlos Vega, who worked for years as an assistant district attorney before Krasner took office, has already announced he is challenging Krasner in the Democratic primary in May.