GOT A WEIRD one for ya here.
Back in 2007, Samuel Perzel, son of then-State Rep. John Perzel, was arrested for allegedly punching a female Philadelphia police officer in the face. Young Perzel, then 18 and allegedly reeking of booze, was charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.
But the charges later were reduced to misdemeanors, and Perzel was accepted into a program for nonviolent first-time offenders, which led to the whole episode being wiped off his criminal record.
Mighty fine deal, we must say.
But this is where it gets strange. Perzel's last name was misspelled as "Prezel" in police records at the time of the arrest, according to a November 2007 Daily News article written by Christine Olley and David Gambacorta.
Now, we'd never think twice about the misspelling, except that court records show that Samuel Prezel - er, Perzel - was arrested again in February and November of this year for drug possession and DUI. And in both of those cases, his name was misspelled again on the court docket, but this time it was his first name. He's listed as "Sameul" Perzel.
A Clout tipster pointed this out. He thinks that maybe the misspellings are designed to keep people (like pesky reporters?) from tracking down the arrest records of a (once-influential) Northeast Philly politician's son.
"I think there's something wrong here," the tipster said. "I'm wondering if someone down in CJC or the D.A.'s Office or whatever is putting it in wrong on purpose. I don't see other people's names misspelled like that all the time."
We're not big on conspiracy theories. But, then again, what are the chances of someone being arrested three times and, in each case, his name is misspelled? In two ways?
So we called Sameul - er, Samuel - Perzel's attorney, Joseph Kelly, and asked him about the misspellings.
"There's no conspiracy," Kelly said. "It happens more than you think."
Meanwhile, John Perzel, who served as House speaker from 2003 to 2007 and pleaded guilty in 2011 to conflict of interest, conspiracy, and theft charges, is still paying off his $1 million restitution.
Perzel has been plunking down, on average, about $95 a month since he was released from prison early last year. So, if our calculator is working properly, by the year 2892 he should be all settled up.
About that letter, Mark
Earlier this month, State Rep. Mark Cohen - kind of a BFD on Wikipedia, you might've heard - wrote a letter to District Attorney Seth Williams demanding that he "promptly drop" corruption charges against fellow Democratic State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown and Louise Williams Bishop.
Cohen said it appeared that Brown and Bishop, who were accused of taking bribes from an undercover informant, were targeted "out of racial hatred, racial stereotyping, contempt for women in the workplace, and contempt for the political process."
But a couple of weeks later, Bishop's attorney, Chuck Peruto Jr., dropped his racial-targeting claim and apologized in court "to anyone I might have offended." Bishop pleaded no contest (basically guilty, but without admitting it) to one misdemeanor count of failing to report $1,500 on her financial forms. She resigned from the House.
A Clout tipster raised a good question: Does Cohen still want Williams to drop the charges against Brown? All the other defendants have pleaded out.
We sent an email on Monday to Cohen's legislative assistant, Linda Huntington, who had sent us a copy of Cohen's letter to Williams. She didn't respond. So we sent another email yesterday. No response. Then we called Cohen's office and left a voice mail. Nothing.
Maybe he's just busy perusing his Wikipedia page, which, according to former Clout contributor Ryan Briggs, once was ranked as the 327th longest Wikipedia entry out of 4.4 million - below former President George W. Bush's but above Ukraine's.
Update: Cohen gave us a call today to say he stands by his letter and still wants Williams to drop the charges against Brown. He said the case should be handled by the State Ethics Commission, not criminal prosecutors.
"There's been no evidence there was any existing criminal conduct. I'm disturbed by that," Cohen said, adding that he still questions why only black public officials were charged. "It would have been in the interest of justice not to bring these prosecutions."
To a better 2016 . . .
It's been a pretty grueling year, for more reasons than one. But, to our surprise, writing the Clout column has been somewhat therapeutic. Sure, we still hate politics, but this has provided a weekly outlet for our unchecked cynicism and innumerable misgivings.
We tackled Philadelphia's most pressing political issues - from the $134,149-a-year city elections boss who doesn't show up for work (or vote) to the mystery of Jim Kenney's disappearing (stolen?) couch.
We had steaks and old fashioneds at the Palm (thank you, Lord, for expense accounts). We got a Delaware River Port Authority commissioner fired (sorry 'bout that, sir, but come on). We turned the other cheek when Kenney called one of us a "jerk weed" (he was right). We floated the groundbreaking Crazy Uncle Theory to explain the Pennsylvania power structure (we were right).
It's anyone's guess what 2016 holds for the Clout column as the Daily News and Inquirer are merged into one newsroom. We'd like to keep the column going after the merger, but we could use some feedback.
For instance, would you miss Clout if we walked out on you? Would you cry?
Do you love Clout and want to treat us to a nice porterhouse at Del Frisco's? Maybe a "Tauben-Burger" at the Dining Car?
Or is the honeymoon over?
Should we stop?
Are you considering suing us? (Get in line.)
Do you want to punch us? It's OK if you do!
And have a happy new year, dear reader(s). Seriously. No snark. We mean it.
- William Bender
On Twitter: @wbender99