Last May, a 26-year-old paralegal by the name of Julia Papazian Law was found dead in the bathtub of her boss and boyfriend, prominent Philadelphia defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. The news set tongues wagging in Philly. It had all the elements of a tabloid tale: a beautiful young woman, a wealthy and successful lawyer, and possible organized-crime connections. (Peruto has represented such prominent alleged Mob figures as Joey Merlino and Nicodemo Scarfo.)
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams convened a grand jury to investigate Julia Law’s death. This decision did not sit well with Charles Peruto, who claimed that it placed him under a cloud of suspicion that harmed his reputation and his legal practice.
With the grand jury probe concluded, District Attorney Williams made an announcement about its findings. What did he have to say?
Not much. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office issued a simple, one-line statement: “The investigation into the death of Julia Law has concluded and there was no evidence of criminal activity found.”
This cryptic comment leaves Peruto dissatisfied:
Peruto told the Inquirer that the one-sentence statement leaves him under a “cloud” and the DA should release the full findings. He said he is considering an abuse-of-process suit against Williams.
Peruto had more choice words for Williams on Facebook, calling him a “power-tripping bum” and a “fat pr—,” according to a separate Philadelphia Magazine story.
“Release the complete report that we paid for, Mr. District Attorney,” Peruto wrote. “You spent our money on your witch hunt, and took eight months to do it, while my father was dying.”
Peruto’s father, criminal defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Sr., died Dec. 17.
So what did cause Julia Law’s death? Drowning, drinking, or a combination of the two, it seems. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, law enforcement officials believe that Law, who was found face-down in a tub of water by a maintenance worker, likely drowned, possibly after a seizure. In addition, an autopsy found that Law had a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.40 percent. (The legal threshold for DUI is 0.08, and a blood-alcohol level in excess of 0.35 percent can be fatal.)
Hopefully the conclusion of this investigation will provide the family of Julia Law with some greater closure — and will clear the name of Charles Peruto, who lost the woman he called his “soulmate.”
Grand jury probe finds paralegal’s death in lawyer’s bathtub was accidental [ABA Journal]
Peruto won’t be charged in woman’s bathtub death [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Grand Jury: No Criminal Activity in Death of Chuck Peruto Girlfriend Julia Law [Philadelphia Magazine]