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Phila. police officer suspended for perjury

A Philadelphia police officer who allegedly lied during court testimony about two arrests was suspended today with intent to dismiss.

Officer Steven Lupo, a six-year veteran, is accused of testifying falsely about the Sept. 2010 arrest of Joseph Tuamba and the Aug. 2011 arrest of Amiraria Farsi.

According to the District Attorney's office, Lupo and his parter were on the 100 block of East Chelten Ave. when they encountered a parked 2010 Lincoln SKS and charged its occupants with possession of narcotics. During testimony, Lupo, 36, claimed he couldn't tell if the car was occupied because the windows were darkly tinted. Lupo said his patrol car window was open, however, and could tell the Lincoln was running. Lupo said he smelled marijuana burning as he got out of his patrol car to investigate.

Three witnesses testified that Lupo's description of the arrest was false. The first witness, who drove the Lincoln from the scene that night, said the window's were not tinted. The second witness, who had rented the Lincoln from Avis Rent-A-Car said the window's were not tinted, and the rental agent at Avis also said the windows were not tinted, according to a spokeswoman for the D.A.'s office.

In the second instance, Lupo allegedly failed to wait for a search warrant before searching 1998 Buick Regal on Aug. 5, 2011. Lupo said the car allegedly had failed to stop at a stop sign. Lupo said when he approached the vehicle he was hit with the "huge odor of marijuana" coming from the car's sides and trunk. Lupo frisked a Farsi and a passenger then searched the car's interior and trunk. Lupo testified that he requested a search warrant and called for a K9 to determine if there was marijuana in the vehicle, the D.A.'s spokeswoman said.

Lupo didn't see the surveillance camera recording the entire episode. The recorded video contradicted Lupo's testimony, showing that he searched Farsi's car before the warrant arrived.

Lupo will be charged with perjury, false swearing,  making false reports and obstruction. Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey immediately suspended him for 30 days.