Defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. today accused District Attorney Seth Williams of investigating state Rep. J.P. Miranda because they "were both dating the same girl at the same time."
A spokeswoman for Williams later called that claim false and ludicrous.
Peruto spoke after a preliminary hearing, in which Municipal Court Judge David Shuter held for trial three felonies filed on Jan. 27 against Miranda and his sister, Michelle Wilson. They are accused of using a "ghost employee" to funnel state payroll money to Wilson after Miranda was told he could not hire his sister to serve on his staff.
"I think it's a vindictive prosecution that singled out J.P. Miranda because J.P. Miranda and Seth Williams were both dating the same girl at the same time," Peruto told reporters. "I think this is one way to eliminate your competition."
Peruto declined to identify the woman, saying he did not want to "besmirch" her in the media. Peruto said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges, citing the woman as a factor in the District Attorney's investigation.
"It's a selective prosecution, based on several factors," Peruto said. "That's just one factor. That's his motive for doing it."
District Attorney spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson responded to Peruto's claim with this email: "The evidence in this case, which includes video tape, text messages, bank statements and testimony by Miranda's own staff, speaks for itself, and the other comments by this defense attorney are not only ludicrous they are completely false."