2 Pa. officers attempt to steal drugs and money from undercover cop
"This is another embarrassment for our department, another in a long list, unfortunately"
By Stephanie Farr
The Philadelphia Daily News
Authorities say Officers Christopher Luciano and Sean Alivera were arrested Monday, Oct. 4, 2010 for robbing a supposed drug dealer of marijuana and cash in what proved to be an undercover sting. (AP photo)
PHILADELPHIA — Two months ago, 25th District officers Sean Alivera and Christopher Luciano watched as the feds busted three cops — one from their own North Philadelphia district — for allegedly conspiring to steal from a drug dealer.
But that didn't deter partners Alivera, 31, and Luciano, 23, from robbing a man they believed to be a drug dealer of 20 pounds of pot and $3,000 cash Monday night, while they were on duty and in full uniform, authorities said.
The dealer turned out to be an undercover Philly cop who was part of a two-week sting operation that began when agents from the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation received information on the men during an unrelated drug case, District Attorney Seth Williams and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said yesterday.
"This is another embarrassment for our department, another in a long list, unfortunately, that we've had to endure over the past few months," Ramsey said.
Alivera and Luciano are the 14th and 15th city police officers to be arrested since early last year. The most recent arrests include a cop who was charged with using a cheating device at Parx Casino, one who was charged with beating a woman with a hockey stick and another accused of stealing more than $800 from a bar.
In July, three cops — two from the 39th District, headquartered at 22nd and Hunting Park, and one from the 25th, at Whitaker and Erie — were charged by federal authorities for allegedly stealing heroin from a drug dealer and giving it to an undercover agent to resell on the street.
Alivera and Luciano also planned to have a drug dealer resell the 20 pounds of marijuana they stole, which was valued at $24,000, Williams said.
Ramsey said the cops would be fired.
He said their arrest and that of the 25th District officer in July are not immediately indicative of deeper problems at the 25th.
"I'm concerned about a systemic problem in this department, period, not just in the 25th District," he said. "You know, you wouldn't have to clean house if the house wasn't dirty to begin with."
Authorities were sketchy on the details of how Alivera and Luciano allegedly robbed the undercover officer. They said the cops initiated a traffic stop on the man in Kensington, robbed him of his money and drugs, handcuffed him and took him back to the 25th District, where they instead found themselves under arrest. The sting was videotaped for evidence, Williams said.
"Philadelphians demand just and law—abiding police officers," he said. "We are committed to rooting out bad cops and will prosecute them for the disgraceful thugs and scum that they are."
The men also face kidnapping charges, but Williams wouldn't provide details, saying only that it indicates that the undercover officer, who was not injured, was "held somewhere or made to stay somewhere or transported somewhere."
Alivera has a decade on the force and made $57,800 plus $4,126 in overtime last year. Luciano, who has served just three years, made $50,043 last year plus $5,851 in overtime, according to city payroll records.
Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said the organization would not provide attorneys for the officers.
"There's a lot of good cops in that district . . . and these two pretty much took a dump all over them," he said.
Ramsey recently revealed a plan to root out bad cops, which includes adding 26 officers to the Internal Affairs Bureau and requiring applicants to be 21.
Three former city cops already are serving sentences for drug—related crimes. Malik Snell, who was convicted in 2009 of robbing a drug dealer, is serving 30 years; Alhinde Weems, who was convicted this year of dealing drugs and planning to rob a drug dealer, is serving 15 years, and Rickie Durham, who was convicted in 2009 of tipping a drug kingpin off to a police raid, is serving two years.
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