Ex-cop to pay fines, serve probation for theft

The dis­graced former Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficer who stole $825 from a busi­ness where a fel­low of­ficer had been fatally shot was ordered on Thursday to re­pay the cash, along with a $5,000 fine, and serve five years pro­ba­tion.

Ken­neth Crock­ett, 57, of the Far North­east, avoided pos­sible jail time for his mis­de­mean­or theft con­vic­tion, al­though his former boss, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey, wanted Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Earl W. Trent to throw the book at the cop-turned-crook.

Trent could have sen­tenced Crock­ett to five years in state pris­on. As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Terri Dom­sky, the lead pro­sec­utor, sought a one- to two-year pris­on term.

Last Oc­to­ber, a Phil­adelphia jury con­victed Crock­ett of theft and ac­quit­ted him of re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty.

Crock­ett, who was a 27-year vet­er­an of the po­lice force and mem­ber of the K-9 Unit at the time, grabbed the cash from an un­locked safe at Pat’s Caf&ea­cute; in North­wood on Ju­ly 27, 2010, while on duty and in­vest­ig­at­ing a burg­lary alarm in the area of Castor Av­en­ue and Ar­rott Street.

Four years earli­er, Of­ficer Gary Sker­ski, the com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer for the 15th dis­trict, died in the af­ter­math of an armed rob­bery at the same tap­room. The rob­ber blas­ted Sker­ski with a shot­gun as the of­ficer at­temp­ted to enter the busi­ness and in­ter­rupt the heist.

The Ju­ly 27, 2010, alarm ac­tu­ally soun­ded at an auto re­pair busi­ness next to Pat’s. Two of­fers re­spon­ded at about 4 a.m., fol­lowed soon by a third. They found no evid­ence of a break-in at the re­pair shop, but no­ticed that a base­ment door at Pat’s had been left open.

They went in­to the tap­room via the open base­ment and made their way to the main floor. The place seemed empty, so they tried to con­tact the own­er, Pat Hol­lor­an, and his se­cur­ity com­pany to re­port the open door. In the mean­time, they sat at the bar and turned on a tele­vi­sion. One of­ficer poured what Ram­sey later de­scribed as a non-al­co­hol­ic bever­age from a soda gun.

All the while, sur­veil­lance cam­er­as filmed the cops.

A loc­al tele­vi­sion sta­tion ob­tained the film and broad­cast it a couple days later, caus­ing pub­lic out­rage. Not only did it look like the then-uniden­ti­fied cops were party­ing while on duty, the video also ap­peared to show one of them grabbing sev­er­al bundles from a safe be­hind the bar and stuff­ing them in­to his util­ity belt.

The cops nev­er reached Hol­lor­an that night, so they wrote a note, left it on the bar and ex­ited Pat’s after about 45 minutes. De­tect­ives re­covered the sur­veil­lance tape while do­ing fol­low-up in­vest­ig­a­tion on the miss­ing cash.

Ram­sey later cleared two of the three of­ficers of crim­in­al wrong­do­ing, al­though he scol­ded them for tak­ing the soft drink. Crock­ett had ap­par­ently ac­ted alone in the theft, wait­ing un­til his two col­leagues had ex­ited the room be­fore stoop­ing be­hind the bar to reach in­to the un­locked safe.

Dur­ing Crock­ett’s tri­al, he denied tak­ing the money, which was nev­er found. A de­fense at­tor­ney claimed Crock­ett had stooped to pick up some “per­son­al ef­fects” that had fallen from his vest, ac­cord­ing to the Daily News.

Jur­ors didn’t buy the ex­cuse.

At the sen­ten­cing hear­ing, the de­fense sought pro­ba­tion. And even Hol­lor­an asked Trent via let­ter not to send Crock­ett to jail — only that he be made to pay resti­tu­tion, The Phil­adelphia In­quirer re­por­ted. Ram­sey wrote ask­ing for the max­im­um pris­on sen­tence.

Crock­ett is a first-time of­fend­er who lost his job shortly after his ar­rest and lost his po­lice pen­sion as a res­ult of the con­vic­tion. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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