When he's not in front of TV cameras making eyebrow-raising comments about a sexual-assault case, Philadelphia defense attorney Perry de Marco Sr. has a side gig.
The cigar-smoking lawyer with an eye patch who calls himself "Captain Perry" has posted since February on a public YouTube channel videos of himself operating a boat, cooking Italian food, and sitting at least partially naked on a toilet — all what he calls a "homegrown type of humor," in which he tells stories about everyone from women and minorities to clients, something some legal-ethics experts say could run afoul of state attorney conduct rules.
On the more than 75 videos posted so far, de Marco, who identifies himself on the channel as a "Philadelphia Criminal Trial Lawyer," calls a client "smokin' hot" and tells a story about grabbing his dentist "right between the legs." He jokes that a friend's beverage of choice is "a prime example why we don't want Mexicans in our Army." He also inserts sexual innuendo into a video about how to cook lamb for Easter dinner.
In one video posted in March, de Marco, who is married, discussed the race and ethnicity of women he's purportedly slept with, including ruminations about how, when he was with an Asian woman, "I had to shut one up, put my hand over her mouth," and how "after I've been with a Puerto Rican girl, I decide to go to therapy."
The video was removed from the channel after the initial publishing of this story.
In an interview Tuesday, de Marco said the channel, which has garnered almost 7,000 views total, was created to be a cooking show that is "completely divorced" from his law practice. He said that he takes shots at "everybody," adding that his two cameramen, who participate in the humor, are Mexican and Russian.
"Although there are women mentioned, although there are sexual comments, although there may be comments regarding minorities," he said, "none of it is intended to be mean-spirited or intended to degrade, diminish, insult, or offend anybody directly."
After viewing one video in which de Marco talked about a Philadelphia prosecutor who is "very attractive," Ben Waxman, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office, said it's "totally inappropriate for Mr. De Marco to comment on the physical appearance of anyone that he interacts with in a professional context."
"He should check his calendar," Waxman said. "He'll find that the year reads 2018, not 1958."
A licensed attorney in Pennsylvania for four decades, de Marco has amassed a high-profile client list that includes accused murderers, rapists, and drug dealers. According to his bio, de Marco for years worked for his father-in-law, A. Charles Peruto Sr., one of the most prominent defense lawyers in Philadelphia history, who died in 2013.
De Marco, who is based in Center City, runs through his wins in the courtroom in a "celebrated cases" section of his website, where he breaks down defense strategies ranging from self-defense theories to how "it can never hurt to have a beautiful, Sicilian woman as a character witness!"
Among his slogans are "Senior is Meaner," a reference to the fact that his son, Perry de Marco Jr., is also a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia. And the elder de Marco has posted a photo of a Lincoln wrapped with graphics of City Hall sinking in the ocean and a shark with what appears to be de Marco's face superimposed on its head.
De Marco Sr.'s most headline-grabbing client these days is Ari Goldstein, the Temple student from Bucks County facing trial on charges of attempted rape, indecent assault, and simple assault in connection with an incident during a February party at the now-suspended Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house on North Broad Street.
After Goldstein's preliminary hearing in July, de Marco lit a cigar and told reporters they could expect "a hell of a trial." He said the case was "#MeToo gone wild" and implied the accuser has ulterior motives. Those comments prompted criticism from District Attorney Larry Krasner, who said de Marco repeatedly named the accuser publicly, an "unacceptable" move that is "exactly why sexual-assault victims do not come forward." The Inquirer and Daily News do not identify victims of alleged sex crimes without their permission.
Krasner's office this week took issue with an eight-minute video titled "Captain Perry #Me Too License To Kill." In it, de Marco said the following:
Waxman said the office has no record of the incident — and de Marco said it was fabricated.
"The ADA thing didn't actually happen," he said. "If somebody poked me in the eye, I would have hit her back. I would have defended myself."
Legal experts say it's a video in which de Marco talked about purported clients that could breach client confidentiality rules, though de Marco said Tuesday the story in the video was "sort of a compilation of various true events" and was "not based on any one actual event."
In the now-deleted, two-minute video posted in March titled "Captain Perry: Tales From The Shi — er, A — Baby's!!!!," de Marco said the following:
Licensed attorneys in Pennsylvania are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct, which includes the following language about client confidentiality: "A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent." Confidential information is broadly defined and "applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source."
The rules also stipulate that they apply to "disclosures by a lawyer that do not in themselves reveal protected information but could reasonably lead to the discovery of such information by a third person."
Josh Byrne, an attorney who focuses on professional liability defense at Swartz Campbell's Center City-based firm, pointed to a case involving an Illinois public defender whose license was suspended in 2010 after she faced disciplinary action for posting information about clients on a personal blog.
"Really what you're looking at is a potential issue with the confidentiality of information," said Byrne, who is also the chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Professional Liability Committee and the cochair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Committee on Guidance of the Profession.
Samuel C. Stretton, a legal-ethics expert who has devoted much of his West Chester-based practice to defending other lawyers, said a public disclosure about clients in criminal cases could violate a rule that attorneys should refrain from discussing those clients to avoid prejudicing the case. If the case is pending, Stretton said, "that can create a major problem."
In addition, the comments de Marco made about the clients — that they were wondering which of them he was going to represent — could have revealed a potential conflict of interest. Byrne said the rules indicate attorneys should avoid conflicts associated with representing clients with opposing interests.
It doesn't appear de Marco is trying to keep the videos private. On several occasions, he asks viewers to subscribe to his channel and share the videos with friends.
At the end of one video, a 30-minute demonstration of how to make Irish Guinness Stew, de Marco implores his users to comment with their thoughts.