Defense attorney and former prosecutor Bill Ferris said Tuesday he is running a Republican primary challenge for Suffolk County district attorney against party nominee Ray Perini.
Ferris said he wanted to restore “confidence and integrity” in the office.
“I want someone who has the integrity, the professionalism and accountability to run an effective campaign and to win,” said Ferris, 70 of Southold, a former Suffolk Bar Association president.
Ferris will need to collect at least 2,000 valid signatures between June 6 through July 13 to qualify for a September primary against Perini, who was tapped last week by Republican officials as the party’s nominee.
Perini, 69, a criminal defense attorney from Huntington Village, pointed to his Republican primary challenge to District Attorney Thomas Spota, a Democrat, four years ago.
“Four years ago I walked those petitions to give the Republicans a choice. I brought term limits to the court of appeals. Bill Ferris didn’t do that,” he said.
He added: “I’m very proud I received the Republican line.”
Ferris on Tuesday launched a website, TheRealRayPerini.com, that directs visitors to a 1989 New York State Commission of Investigation report.
The report found Perini condoned illegal wiretaps and other abuses of power as a prosecutor in the Suffolk district attorney’s office. A special prosecutor said illegal wiretaps occurred on his watch, but found no evidence to corroborate allegations that Perini knew of the activity. He was never charged with a crime.
Perini said he was the victim of former police officers he investigated for wrongdoing.
“There should be no smudge on my office. I’ll make that office great again,” Perini said.
Ferris said the investigation will be used by Democrats to attack Perini.
“I want a Republican in the DA position. And it comes down to this, and this is no secret: Ray’s background,” said Ferris.
Ferris is a former U.S. Navy officer who commanded a Swift Boat in Vietnam. He left active duty and graduated from Fordham Law School in 1976.
Hired by former Suffolk District Attorney Pat Henry in 1978, he served until 2001. Spota asked him to leave after defeating District Attorney James Catterson, Ferris said.
Ferris said he has raised about $45,000 so far for the campaign and has $25,000 cash on hand.