Suspect in house-thefts turns himself in

The son of a former Phil­adelphia po­lice com­mis­sion­er sur­rendered to au­thor­it­ies on Thursday, eight days after the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice an­nounced fil­ing crim­in­al charges against him in a house-steal­ing scheme.

Steven John­son, 49, of the 4700 block of Vista St. in Holmes­burg, is the son of former Com­mis­sion­er Sylvester John­son, and is him­self a former lieu­ten­ant in the SEPTA po­lice force as well as an em­ploy­ee of the Phil­adelphia County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

John­son and three oth­er men al­legedly forged deeds with fals­i­fied not­ar­iz­a­tions for more than 20 va­cant homes in the city and filed the bogus doc­u­ments with the city to ef­fect­ively take pos­ses­sion of the prop­er­ties, the DA said. The men then al­legedly sold many of the homes for profit.

Most of the af­fected sites are in South Phil­adelphia. None are in the North­east.

The DA’s of­fice de­clined to spe­cify how John­son ar­ranged to sur­render or why he was per­mit­ted to re­main free for more than a week while his co-de­fend­ants were ar­res­ted on Jan. 9, ac­cord­ing to the DA.

John­son’s co-de­fend­ants in­clude Zachary Stokes, 55, of the 200 block of Pine St; Oscar “An­dre” Ket­ter, 42, of the 1500 block of S. Dor­rance St.; and El­hadi Ibrahim, 48, of the 9500 block of Hoff St. in Bustleton. All are charged with con­spir­acy, theft, for­gery, tam­per­ing with re­cords and re­lated of­fenses.

All but John­son re­main jailed in lieu of vary­ing bail amounts of $560,000 or more. They are sched­uled for a status hear­ing on Feb. 8 and a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing on April 9. John­son was freed after post­ing 10 per­cent of $100,000 bail on the day of his ar­rest. He is sched­uled for a status hear­ing on Jan. 25. ••

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