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Cop faces probe of alleged tax scam

A PHILADELPHIA police officer who has been the subject of two investigations by the District Attorney's Office could be disciplined, even fired, for an alleged tax scam.

A PHILADELPHIA police officer who has been the subject of two investigations by the District Attorney's Office could be disciplined, even fired, for an alleged tax scam.

Elaine P. Thomas, 41, a 15-year police veteran, will go before a police board of inquiry next week on allegations that she falsely claimed in signed court documents in six real-estate transactions that she was related by blood to people who were listed as the sellers.

Thomas allegedly made these claims when buying homes to avoid paying real-estate taxes. Sales between family members are exempt from the 3 percent city real-estate-transfer tax and 1 percent state tax.

"She's supposed to be an asset to the community, not a liability," a cousin, Gregory Bryant, told the Daily News. "I think it's shameful for her to do that when she wears a badge."

The D.A. investigated Thomas, but in a June letter to the Police Department, said that the office declined to prosecute, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Police Internal Affairs then investigated the case and accused Thomas in October of conduct unbecoming of an officer, Ramsey said.

The board of inquiry will recommend what, if any, discipline Thomas should face. Ramsey can accept or reject the recommendation.

Internal Affairs this week launched yet another investigation into Thomas, Ramsey said. That complaint apparently concerns allegations of stolen homes, the subject of an Inquirer report on Sunday.

Although the D.A. wouldn't prosecute Thomas, it did charge a notary, Chavon Reese, who notarized several court documents involving Thomas. Reese pleaded guilty to conspiracy and 23 counts of forgery in connection with stolen houses.

D.A. spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson declined to comment on Thomas. "We don't comment when charges are not filed," she said.

Thomas, who has not faced criminal charges, did not respond to a request for comment.

"She's under investigation but she has not been proven guilty," said her mother, Hazel Thomas. "Just because she's investigated doesn't make her guilty."

Police are investigating six home sales involving Allen McDonald, Margaret Carruth, Vincent Ruffin, Eugene Hamilton, Christine Kibler and Bulah Culver. There's no way to verify Thomas' signature, but the same post-office box is used as her address in all six cases.

On the transfer-tax certification for Culver's Newkirk Street house dated April 5, 2005, Culver is described as Thomas' mother.

"She's no relation at all," said Sanetha Carmichael, Culver's granddaughter. "I'm shocked that someone would do that . . . Elaine's daughter was friends with my daughter."

That same document said that Culver, who has since died, sold the house for $1. But Culver sold the house to Thomas for $3,800, Carmichael said.

Carmichael said that an Internal Affairs investigator asked her about the case, that she gave him all the documents she had, and that he returned them to her in April 2009.

The case of Christine Kibler is even more curious. Kibler died Aug. 25, 2003, at age 98. In November 2004, someone forged her signature to sell her house on Diamond Street near 29th. Thomas is listed as the buyer.

Kibler is listed as Thomas' sister on the transfer-tax form. No relatives of Kibler could be found and the house is now boarded.

Margaret Carruth's two sons told the Daily News they were surprised to learn that Thomas (and Allen McDonald) were listed as Carruth's children on property records.

"Who is Elaine Thomas?" Carruth's son David asked. "She's no sister. No cousin. No nothing. If anyone is making money, it should be me."

This wasn't the only time the D.A. investigated Thomas.

Gregory Bryant lodged a complaint with Internal Affairs in May 2009, saying that Thomas had removed money from the bank account of his mother, Edith Bryant, after she died in March 2008.

She was sick and bedridden for about 15 years. While Gregory was in drug rehab, his mom began to trust Thomas, her great-niece, and gave her power of attorney in 2006, Gregory said.

"My mom trusted her because she was a cop," Bryant said.

Joanne Billig, a longtime friend of Edith Bryant's, said that Bryant believed Thomas had stolen from her while she was alive.

"She told me Elaine is stealing from me," Billig said. "She told me her bank statements weren't right."

Bank statements show that $7,200 was withdrawn from Bryant's account between Oct. 15 and Nov. 5, 2007, according to an Internal Affairs report.

Thomas' power of attorney for Bryant was revoked on March 6, 2008. But Thomas told investigators she was never notified.

Thomas told investigators she withdrew $5,000 from Bryant's account after her death because Bryant had told her she wanted her to have it. Internal Affairs records show that Thomas withdrew $5,700 between March 17 and April 3, 2008.

In November 2011, the D.A. declined to pursue criminal charges against Thomas.

Attorney David Rubin, the executor of Edith Bryant's estate, wrote in a July 2008 letter that Thomas appeared at the bank several times after Bryant died "and attempted to access the safe-deposit box in her police uniform. The bank denied her access to the box and she became agitated."

Gregory Bryant is relieved that Thomas will at least go before the police board of inquiry.

"She stole from my mom and that's not right," he said. "She used being a cop to her advantage, so she could maneuver, get special treatment. And what she did was take from people."