Meet Ralph Perfetto: rogue do-gooder.
The prosecutor in the case against the former Bay Ridge Democratic district leader accused of passing himself off as an attorney to help his cousin’s son painstakingly painted the 75-year-old boxer-turned-private eye as a brash renegade who flagrantly disregards the law even as he helps strangers and friends.
As the “trial of the century” got under way on Wednesday, Staten Island Assistant District Attorney Om Kakani — who’s handling the prosecution because Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes found the case too hot to handle — trotted out a criminal case that Perfetto was involved with during his prior job as ombudsman in the city’s Public Advocate’s office.
Kakani’s witness for the prosecution was Elba Feliciano, an administrator in the Public Advocate’s office. Under withering examination, Feliciano testified that Perfetto called prosecutors, defense attorneys, court clerks and the Department of Correction on the complainant’s behalf — an apparent violation of office policy because ombudsmen aren’t allowed to handle cases involving any type of litigation.
“Our directors and supervisors always told us that we were not authorized to get involved in those kind of cases,” Feliciano told the court. “We were not to interfere.”
But Perfetto would, Kakani said later.
“[Perfetto] became involved in this criminal case knowing that it was well beyond the bounds of what an ombudsman would do,” Kakani explained.
Perfetto was no longer with the Public Advocate’s office when he allegedly masqueraded as a lawyer in his relative’s case, but Kakani’s inference is clear — if the aging maverick would bend the rules for a stranger, why wouldn’t he do it for a member of his family?
Perfetto responded that everything he did as an ombudsman was done with the permission of his superiors.
“Apparently Ms. Feliciano has a bad memory,” Perfetto told us. “I have proof that I acted with the blessings of both [Public Advocates] Betsy Gotbaum and Mark Green.”
Perfetto claims that he was the “go to guy” when the Public Advocate’s office needed something researched or investigated. He even handled a rat problem in Felicano’s building one time, he remembered.
Defense attorney Mark Rendeiro said he was appalled by Kakani’s allegations.
“[Perfetto’s] being accused of doing too much work on investigations that helped people in need,” Rendeiro said. “It’s disgraceful.”
Perfetto is facing one year in prison for pulling a “My Cousin Vinny” by misrepresenting himself as an attorney when his cousin’s son was called to court to face a harassment charge.
Perfetto is not an attorney, but says he never claimed that he was one when he spoke on behalf of his relative during an arraignment proceeding.
The trial of the century continues today — and Kakani is expected to ramp it up even further by calling the trial judge in the relative’s case. The judge is expected to testify that Perfetto did indeed try to pass himself off as a lawyer.
©2011 Community News Group
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