Embattled Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley has hired attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. to help her fight criticism that has been mounting since she sentenced hip-hop star Meek Mill to a lengthy prison term for a probation violation.
Peruto, a Center City Philadelphia lawyer best known as a criminal defense attorney, said Thursday his representation of Brinkley will take more of an offensive posture, and could take the form of defamation lawsuits filed against the attorneys and entertainment company he said is behind a campaign to smear Brinkley and her handling of the criminal case against Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Williams.
“Unless there is a complete apology, not just a half-assed one, on the same media outlets that she was bashed on,” Peruto said. ”For now I’m just getting up to speed on everything. I’m just realizing how much money Roc Nation has thrown at this, and it’s immeasurable.”
An emailed statement from Williams’ Manhattan attorney, Joseph Tacopina of Tacopina & Seigel, said the defense team was not surprised by Brinkley’s move to hire an attorney, and mentioned several lawsuits she has filed previously, including lawsuits against former tenants of properties she owned and the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co. seeking $15,000 in connection with alleged emotional distress.
“We look forward to a lawsuit from the judge and taking this to court where she will have to be deposed under oath and speak the truth. We are not shocked that Judge Brinkley has resorted to this tactic,” he said. “We won’t be intimidated.”
Controversy between Williams and Brinkley has been building since she sentenced him in November to a two- to four-year prison sentence for a probation violation, a sentence that staggered the rapper’s supporters. Williams had been on probation for nine years at that point, and the violation for which he received the prison sentence stemmed from two out-of-state incidents that resulted in charges being brought, but later dropped.
Scrutiny of Brinkley intensified after Williams’ counsel alleged that the judge had been enamored with the hip-hop star. Among other things, Williams’ defense team said she had asked Williams to re-record a Boyz II Men song with her name included in the lyrics, and that he change management from the New York-based Roc Nation to the Philadelphia-based manager Charlie Mack. More recently, several media outlets have reported allegations that Brinkley potentially engaged in unethical conduct, such as possibly using a secretary for personal matters, among other things.
Peruto said the allegations are part of a smear campaign by Williams’ legal and public relations teams, which, he said, involved pouring through court documents and interviewing former tenants at properties she owns and attorneys who have appeared before her in court.
Peruto said he was hired last week, and has already been working to clear the air regarding Brinkley. Specifically, he said he had encouraged Brinkley to unseal a key transcript in Williams’ case. The defense has pointed to the transcript as evidence for their claim that Brinkley pushed to have Williams fire Roc Nation and hire Mack, but according to the transcript, Williams’ probation office and the assistant district attorney pressed for Williams to hire Mack.
“After reading them, I was so dumbfounded that everything she said was 100 percent true and all the allegations 100 percent false,” he said.
Peruto said Brinkley approached him about representing her regarding the Williams controversy, and that she will be paying him herself.
He also said this is not his first involvement in the case. Along with being one of the attorneys interviewed by investigators regarding Brinkley’s conduct on the bench, Peruto said he had also been contacted by Williams after Williams was sentenced to prison in November.
According to Peruto, Williams interviewed him about possibly representing him in the case.
“I told him, you’re going about this the wrong way by laying these personal attacks. They’re not going to get anywhere on appeal,” Peruto said. “At first he was all about it, and then Roc Nation was so hell-bent on attacking the judge that they changed Meek Mill’s mind.”
Peruto said the initial contact from Williams did not raise any conflict of interest concerns with representing Brinkley now, since the target of any litigation would likely be Williams’ management and legal team rather than Williams.
In his emailed statement, Tacopina disputed Peruto’s version of his prior meeting with Williams, saying it was Peruto who had visited Williams and that he had called Williams’ defense team to offer his legal services on the case.