One officer charged in Pat's Cafe case

FRANKFORD - July 30, 2010

Philadelphia District Attorney announced the charges against Kenneth Crockett, a 25-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police force, Friday morning during a 9 a.m. news conference.

The charges against Crockett are linked to the alleged theft of money from Pat's Cafe. Crockett has been charged with Theft and Receiving Stolen Property, both misdemeanor charges.

Crockett was supposed to surrender to the district attorney Friday morning, but overnight Thursday, his family summoned police to take control of the 56-year old cop, who is looking at up to 10 years in prison and the loss of his pension.

"Members of his family became very concerned about his behavior and he was involuntarily committed so that he could get appropriate mental health treatment," D.A. Seth Williams said.

Action News has obtained surveillance video that apparently shows a Philadelphia police officer stealing money from a bar's safe. The video was shot inside Pat's Cafe in the Frankford section in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning.

The security video is at the center of the investigation into whether Crockett, 56, stole hundreds of dollars in cash.

The case unfolded after 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning when two officers were responding to a report of a burglar alarm at auto shop located behind the café. The alarm turned out to be unfounded.

At 4:25 a.m., surveillance video shows the two Philadelphia police officers peering through the windows of Pat's Café. Then, they go in through a cellar door which was apparently unlocked. They appear to have gotten into the bar through a trap door in the floor. A third officer can be seen joining them later.

The three officers are then seen in the video staying in the bar for about 30 to 40 minutes, drinking what Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey insists were non-alcoholic beverages.

Ramsey said the officers were inside looking for a possible prowler. FOP President John McNesby said the officers were looking for the owner's phone number to contact him about the possible prowler.

Then, while two of the officers have their backs turned, a third officer goes into a safe and pulls out what appears to be wads of cash, stuffing it on his person. About $825 were taken, investigators said.

That officer, only identified as a 25 year veteran of the force, is now the target of a robbery probe.

While all three officers remain on desk duty, Commissioner Ramsey says if the evidence remains the same, the other two will return to duty Friday.

"When you look at the tape, it's not until the other officers walk away that the going into the safe takes place," said Ramsey. "At no time does it look like there is any conspiracy going on between the three officers."

Police have asked the bar's employees and patrons not to talk to the news media.

Action News has learned, however, the person responsible for locking the doors and the safe which appeared unlocked in the surveillance video is the bartender who is new to the job. While she has a reputation for usually locking up, she tells investigators it just so happens, she forgot to do so this time.

On Wednesday night, the Action Cam was there as investigators removed the safe at the center of this investigation from the bar.

Pat's Café has a long history as a popular neighborhood bar and tragically, the place where Officer /*Gary Skerski*/ was gunned down and murdered after responding to a robbery in progress on May 8, 2006. They still have a sign outside the bar that reads: "Farewell to our hero, Officer Skerski."

Cracking down on corrupt cops

The month of July alone shows Commissioner Charles Ramsey that he has a problem.

"This badge you wear is a symbol of trust and a symbol of authority. It's meant to cover your chest, not cover your butt and we got too many guys that on occasion feel as if they have special privileges as police officers. Well, they don't. " Commissioner Ramsey said.

Ex-cop Adrian Makuch was sentenced to prison Friday after being arrested last year for soliciting sex with minors.

Last week, fired cop Alhinde Weems was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his conviction on crack cocaine and firearms charges.

Three now ex-Philadelphia cops were charged just weeks ago for allegedly scheming with a drug dealer to sell heroin they stole from another local drug lord.

"You can't be a policeman and you can't be a burglar, you can't be a policeman and you can't be a drug dealer, you have to make your choices in life," F.O.P. President John McNesby said.

Ramsey says he is going to Mayor Michael Nutter with a plan to weed out the rotten apples in the police force.

"We've got to be thoughtful about this, but we got to do something; we can't ignore the fact that we have an issue that needs to be addressed," Ramsey said.

The sentiment is echoed by many men and women of the department, who put their lives on the line everyday.

"We've taken an oath to protect and serve the citizens of the city and we're out there to get the bad guys and if we find that there's a miniscule of bad guys among us, it outrages us more than anybody," F.O.P Vice President John McGrody said.

Ramsey does have a reputation as a no-nonsense commissioner. In the 2.5 years as Philadelphia Police Commissioner, he has now fired 55 officers from the department, with Crockett being the latest.

Ramsey's anti-corruption plan may be on Mayor Nutter's desk by Monday.

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