Former Philly top cop's son accused of house theft

49-year-old Steven Johnson of the 4700 block of Vista Street

January 10, 2013 4:03:20 AM PST
Four men, including the son of a former Philadelphia police commissioner, have been arrested for forging the deeds of 22 properties in Philadelphia, enabling them to effectively steal the houses.

"All too often, people who are unsuspecting were buying properties and the people selling them had no right to be selling them," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said.

A lengthy investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office revealed that the deeds of 22 uninhabited properties across the city were forged and recorded, transferring the properties from the true owners to the codefendants or fictitious persons.

Officials say, in many instances, the signature of the Notary Public on the deed was forged and a counterfeit stamp used.

"As with everything, people find ways to lie, cheat and steal and these four defendants were caught," Williams said.

Authorities allege the following four men were the orchestrators of the home theft ring: 55-year-old Zachary Stokes, 42-year-old Oscar Ketter, 48-year-old Elhadi Ibrahim and 49-year-old Steven Johnson, a son of former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson:

"I have a lot of respect for Commissioner Johnson. I have three children. He has one son that is a former FBI agent, but this son is allegedly involved with this crime," Williams said.

The properties were being sold to innocent buyers, and in some cases, the purchase price was just $1.

"If criminals were rational, I'd be out of business. I hope one day to be out of business, but people do stupid things for a lot of stupid reasons," Williams said.

The men face a number of charges including Criminal Conspiracy, Theft, Forgery and Tampering with Public Records.

The properties involved are:

1120 S Clifton Street
1931 Dickinson Street
1428 S. Colorado Street
1527 S. Dorrance Street
1447 Bancroft Street
2029 Beechwood Street
1631 Mole Street
1408 S. Chadwick Street
24 N. Paxon Street
1534 S. Dorrance Street
1011 Brandywine Street
1026 Brandywine Street
714 S. 11th Street
1258 S. 22nd Street
1428 S. 24th Street
1325 N. Franklin Street
1835 S 19th Street
1422 S. 22nd Street
1622 S. Carlisle Street
2213 Kimball Street
2404 W. Lehigh Ave
1927 Fernon Street