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). ••EndFragment