Two former cops convicted of theft

Two former Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficers were con­victed of theft last week for steal­ing util­ity ser­vices at sev­er­al prop­er­ties they jointly owned.

Vet­er­an Lt. Aisha Perry, 54, of Winchester Park and her ac­com­plice, long­time Of­ficer George Suarez, 55, tampered with util­ity meters so that they would not re­gister the gas, wa­ter and elec­tri­city used at sev­er­al prop­er­ties. The loc­a­tions in­cluded Perry’s home on the 2800 block of Winchester Ave., a sub­stance ab­use re­hab fa­cil­ity on the 1900 block of W. Gir­ard Ave., an­oth­er prop­erty near Dever­eaux Av­en­ue and Bing­ham Street and one near 22nd and Tioga streets.

After a four-day tri­al, a jury de­lib­er­ated for about 13 hours be­fore re­turn­ing guilty ver­dicts against Perry on six of nine counts, as well as guilty ver­dicts against Suarez on nine of 16 counts.

Fol­low­ing the read­ing of the ver­dicts, Perry re­portedly in­ter­rup­ted the pro­ceed­ings by in­sist­ing her in­no­cence and claim­ing that she was be­ing re­tali­ated against as a one-time “whis­tleblower” in the po­lice de­part­ment. In­deed, a fed­er­al jury in 1999 awar­ded Perry $42,000 in dam­ages after she suc­cess­fully sued the po­lice de­part­ment claim­ing that her white su­per­i­ors re­tali­ated against her after she had re­por­ted wrong­do­ing by white of­ficers. Perry is Afric­an-Amer­ic­an.

But some 12 years later, the de­part­ment launched an in­tern­al in­vest­ig­a­tion of the pair re­gard­ing the al­leg­a­tions of util­ity theft. Perry and Suarez were re­as­signed to desk jobs dur­ing the year-long probe, which came to light pub­licly after Perry’s fam­ily friend drowned un­der sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances in the al­gae-filled back­yard pool at her home. The city’s med­ic­al ex­am­iner later ruled that Mark Cum­mins, 45, died of an ac­ci­dent­al drown­ing. Perry was not im­plic­ated with wrong­do­ing.

Au­thor­it­ies charged Perry and Suarez with the util­ity thefts in Septem­ber 2012, al­leging that the thefts amoun­ted to thou­sands of dol­lars. The po­lice de­part­ment sus­pen­ded both cops pending their dis­missal after 30 days. Perry, a 31-year vet­er­an pre­vi­ously as­signed to the 39th dis­trict, re­tired be­fore her dis­missal. Suarez, a 26-year vet­er­an pre­vi­ously as­signed to the 14th dis­trict, did not re­tire.

Dur­ing the tri­al, at­tor­neys for both de­fend­ants re­portedly ar­gued that nobody ac­tu­ally saw either de­fend­ant tam­per­ing with the meters. They de­scribed the evid­ence as cir­cum­stan­tial. As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Terri Dom­sky re­portedly countered that Perry and Suarez were the only ones to be­ne­fit from the sim­il­ar tam­per­ing at their prop­er­ties.

Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Earl W. Trent will sen­tence the pair on June 11. He re­portedly in­dic­ated in post-sen­ten­cing com­ments that he be­lieved both de­fend­ants had already “suffered sig­ni­fic­antly” for their crimes. ••

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