Police officers are charged in utility theft case


Phil­adelphia po­lice Lt. Aisha Perry avoided crim­in­al charges in Ju­ly after a fam­ily friend drowned sus­pi­ciously in the al­gae-filled back­yard pool of her Winchester Park home.

But Perry couldn’t dodge the law last week when fel­low po­lice ar­res­ted her and an­oth­er sus­pect of­ficer for al­legedly us­ing pub­lic util­it­ies at two Phil­adelphia ad­dresses without pay­ing for them.

Perry, 53, and Of­ficer George Suarez, 54, were ar­res­ted Sept. 11 and charged with theft of ser­vices from the Phil­adelphia Gas Works, PECO and the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment. Perry is fa­cing six counts each of theft and risk­ing cata­strophe, along with con­spir­acy. Suarez was charged with 10 counts each of theft and risk­ing cata­strophe, as well as con­spir­acy.

Ac­cord­ing to the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, Perry and Suarez tampered with util­ity meters at sev­er­al prop­er­ties that they con­trolled to re­ceive elec­tri­city, gas and wa­ter ser­vice for free.

Two prop­er­ties in­volved in the scheme re­portedly were Perry’s home on the 2800 block of Winchester Ave., as well as a re­hab­il­it­a­tion cen­ter and apart­ment build­ing on the 1900 block of W. Gir­ard Ave. known as Clean and Sober Res­id­ents.

Perry is the own­er of re­cord on both deeds, ac­cord­ing to the city’s Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment. Re­cords show that Perry bought the Winchester Av­en­ue house in 2007 for $1 and the Gir­ard Av­en­ue build­ing last year for $1.

Typ­ic­ally, a $1 sale price on prop­erty in­dic­ates a trans­ac­tion between fam­ily mem­bers or from an in­di­vidu­al to a fam­ily trust. De­tails of Perry’s trans­ac­tions are not known.

Au­thor­it­ies did not dis­close the dol­lar value of the thefts.

The po­lice de­part­ment’s In­tern­al Af­fairs Bur­eau and the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in­vest­ig­ated the case. Word of the in­vest­ig­a­tion in­volving Perry reached the news me­dia in Ju­ly after the drown­ing in Perry’s back­yard pool.

The city’s med­ic­al ex­am­iner ruled that Mark Cum­mins, 45, of the North­east died from an ac­ci­dent­al drown­ing. Po­lice de­scribed Cum­mins as a “fam­ily friend” of Perry’s.

The drown­ing oc­curred on Ju­ly 5. Video sur­veil­lance foot­age of the in­cid­ent showed Cum­mins swim­ming alone in the pool that night and dis­ap­pear­ing be­low the sur­face. Perry went to the pool area a few minutes later, ap­par­ently look­ing for Cum­mins, but did not see him. In­vest­ig­at­ors said that the pool had not been cleaned and was murky from al­gae or oth­er pol­lut­ants.

Perry called 911, but told the op­er­at­or that Cum­mins was a “prowl­er,” rather than a long­time friend who had been a house­guest, ac­cord­ing to the Phil­adelphia Daily News. Patrol of­ficers re­spon­ded to the scene and pulled Cum­mins from the wa­ter. De­tect­ives ob­tained a war­rant be­fore tak­ing the video from Perry’s sur­veil­lance sys­tem.

Perry, a 31-year po­lice de­part­ment vet­er­an, was as­signed to the 39th dis­trict, al­though she most re­cently worked in the Dif­fer­en­tial Po­lice Re­sponse Unit, re­portedly due to the on­go­ing In­tern­al Af­fairs in­vest­ig­a­tion of her. Suarez, a 25-year vet­er­an, worked in the 14th dis­trict. Both will be fired after man­dat­ory 30-day sus­pen­sions.

Perry and Suarez are free, each on $5,000 bail, and are sched­uled for status hear­ings on Nov. 5, fol­lowed by pos­sible pre­lim­in­ary hear­ings on Dec. 3 (Perry) and 5 (Suarez). ••


You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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