A veteran Philadelphia police lieutenant and an officer were charged Tuesday with stealing thousands of dollars' worth of utilities from three city companies, police said.
Lt. Aisha Perry, 53, and Officer George Suarez, 54, are accused of siphoning off electricity, water, and gas service from PECO, the Philadelphia Gas Works, and the Philadelphia Water Department. They were charged with theft of services, conspiracy, and risking a catastrophe, and will be suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said.
Suarez, a 25-year veteran, was assigned to the Northwest-based 14th Police District.
Police sources have said for more than a year that Perry was under investigation for the alleged utility scheme. She was formally assigned to the Northeast's 39th Police District, but police sources have said she was put on desk duty in recent months because of the ongoing Internal Affairs probe. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Police sources said the investigation centered on Perry's house in Northeast Philadelphia and on at least one other Philadelphia property linked to Perry and Suarez.
Since joining the department 31 years ago, Perry has made headlines several times. In 1998 she filed a federal lawsuit against the department, alleging that she was harassed by her supervisors and denied a promotion because she brought an internal-affairs complaint against one white police officer and arrested another for drunken driving.
A U.S. District Court jury awarded Perry $42,000 in damages the following year, finding that five supervisory officers, including a chief inspector, had retaliated against her.
Perry landed in the spotlight again this summer, after a man police described as a friend drowned in her backyard swimming pool. Police have said that they are investigating the death, but that there are no apparent signs of foul play and that the death may have been alcohol-related.
This is also not the first arrest of a police officer involving the theft of utility services. Last month, authorities charged Philadelphia Police Officer John Hoesle in connection with an elaborate scam to defraud Comcast by providing thousands of customers with reduced rates or premium services, in exchange for a fee. Hoesle was one of 17 people who authorities said served as agents in the theft ring.
Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or [email protected].
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