Sting followed many suspicions about honesty of Corbett in-law
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PHILADELPHIA -- Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Friday that theft allegations involving Officer Gerold Gibson -- son-in-law of Gov. Tom Corbett -- were first brought to his attention in late fall by Officer Gibson's commanding officer in the Narcotics Field Unit.
Several of Officer Gibson's fellow officers had voiced suspicions that Officer Gibson, 43, was stealing clothing, sneakers and jewelry from the homes of suspected drug dealers during raids and warrant executions, Commissioner Ramsey and police sources said.
Within days, Commissioner Ramsey and other high-ranking police officials -- including Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, internal affairs supervisors and two narcotics commanders -- met with FBI investigators to discuss the case.
Normally, Commissioner Ramsey said, the department would handle such theft allegations internally, but given the "obvious sensitivity involved," he wanted the case investigated with the discretion and resources of the FBI.
The three-month investigation into Officer Gibson's alleged misconduct concluded Thursday morning when Officer Gibson pocketed $140 from a car wired with surveillance cameras during an FBI and Internal Affairs sting operation.
Under the belief that a drug arrest had just been made in the car, Officer Gibson was asked to drive it back to a narcotics field office so a search warrant could be obtained. Investigators had hidden $400 in marked bills throughout the car, sources said. Officer Gibson had no authority to search the vehicle, Commissioner Ramsey said.
After Officer Gibson dropped the car off, investigators found about $140 missing, which they found on Officer Gibson.
Internal affairs should complete its investigative report by late next week, Commissioner Ramsey said.
"Then I will take what I believe to be appropriate disciplinary action," Commissioner Ramsey said. "Termination," he said, "certainly falls within the range of possible penalties."
Once the department completes its investigation, the case will be forwarded to the district attorney's office, which will decide if Officer Gibson faces criminal charges. Officer Gibson has been placed on administrative leave.
Twice in his 17-year career, Officer Gibson has been investigated after citizens lodged complaints against him, including a 2009 incident when a Kensington man said $513.55 went missing after Officer Gibson and other narcotics officers searched his home.
That allegation was not substantiated, according to department records.
In 2010, Officer Gibson was exonerated after an allegation that he made a false arrest.
Officer Gibson and Mr. Corbett's daughter, Katherine, married in 2010. The couple have a 1-year-old son, but have been separated for a few months, sources said.
Officer Gibson has at least one other child from a previous relationship, police sources said.
Katherine Corbett Gibson was hired by the office of attorney general in 2012. She is a deputy attorney general assigned to the Philadelphia office.
Before that she was a prosecutor with the habitual offenders unit of the district attorney's office.
Commissioner Ramsey said he could only think of one word to describe an officer possibly throwing away a career -- and his freedom -- over petty thefts.
"It's stupid," he said. "You don't do that to your family. And it has nothing to do with who his father-in-law is. You just don't do that to your family. Period."
First Published February 2, 2013 12:00 am