A Brooklyn jury has convicted former Bay Ridge District Leader Ralph Perfetto of what many are calling the crime of the century: unlawfully posing as an attorney to help a relative during a preliminary court hearing in 2008.
The verdict came on Thursday morning after three days of deliberations and two days of testimony during which prosector Om Kakani painted the 75-year-old Perfetto, a former ombudsman in the public advocate’s office, as a rogue do-gooder who just didn’t know when to stop helping people.
At issue was whether Perfetto told the court that he was a lawyer when he represented his cousin’s son, Anthony Martire, in a minor harassment case. Perfetto maintained to the end that he did nothing wrong, though Exhibit A featured his signature on a crucial court document suggesting that he was, indeed, passing himself off as Martire’s attorney.
“I never pretended to be an attorney,” Perfetto said as the trial got under way. “This whole thing is preposterous.”
Yet prosecutors successfully claimed that the always nattily dressed Perfetto not only looked the part, but spoke on Martire’s behalf during the brief arraignment proceeding. Perfetto even waived Martire’s rights to a formal reading of the charges, prosecutors allege.
Though he is not a lawyer, Perfetto played his role perfectly, prosecutors say, pointing to the case transcript, where he says, “If I may, Your Honor, with the Court’s permission, may I submit two notarized affidavits from eyewitnesses that speak to the contrary of what did happen?”
Richmond County Assistant District Attorney Kakani — who prosecuted the case after Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes recused himself citing Perfetto’s political work — wanted to bring the hammer down on the longtime insider.
And on Thursday, he got his wish.
Perfetto is facing a year in jail.
Our reporters are still interviewing jurors, so check back later for more on this breaking story.