Dove did it for love, now he's headed to jail
A grand jury indicted ex-cop Ronald Dove for allegedly obstructing a murder investigation involving his girlfriend.
MOST PEOPLE can tell you a story about something crazy they've done in the name of love - you know, things like tattoos and bad karaoke serenades and impulsive moves to other cities.
Few can recall chestnuts about transporting a suspect in a murder case to an out-of-state hotel, or hiding evidence in some dusty garage, or lying repeatedly to frustrated homicide detectives.
Actually, there's one guy who knows what it's like to live through a plot that sounds like it was ripped straight from a B-movie starring Eric Roberts: Ronald Dove, the disgraced ex-Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit detective.
District Attorney Seth Williams announced yesterday that Dove had been arrested and charged with a litany of crimes following a grand-jury investigation into allegations that he tried to cover for his longtime lover, Erica Sanchez, after she allegedly murdered her ex-boyfriend, Cesar Vera, on Sept. 8, 2013.
Williams said the case reminded him of a "cheap dime novel," but was also a "sad statement, when you have a police officer doing all that he can to shield a homicide suspect."
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey fired Dove in November 2013 for lying to Internal Affairs investigators who tried to get to the bottom of the sordid situation.
According to the grand jury, the story began with a bad decision and grew increasingly absurd from there.
After Sanchez allegedly fatally stabbed Vera in a North Philly after-hours club, she called Dove, who was on duty at police headquarters.
He soon picked her up from a friend's house, and the two retrieved her 2006 Honda Element from near the crime scene. Dove hid the car in an auto-repair shop, telling the garage owner to lie if police came looking for it.
Homicide detectives probing Vera's murder quickly identified Sanchez as a suspect. Dove was moving quickly, too, calling hotel chains and lining up a meeting for Sanchez with a defense lawyer.
According to the grand jury, Dove began to quiz detectives Brian Peters and William Sierra, who were assigned to the case, and said that an unnamed "friend" of his was involved.
Dove's fellow cops told him the "friend" needed to surrender. Instead, Dove and Sanchez hopped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and headed to a Holiday Inn in Rochester, N.Y., phone and turnpike records showed.
Dove paid for Sanchez's room and got her a hard-to-trace cellphone from Walmart. He headed back to Philly, but continued to call, text and send money to Sanchez. In late September, the two reconnected and spent two nights at a hotel near Niagara Falls.
But Dove ended up cracking. In a series of conversations with the investigators on the Vera case, Dove confessed Sanchez's involvement.
Dove cried during a phone call to Peters, saying that Sanchez "means so much to me," and arguing that she killed Vera in self-defense.
When Peters noted that witnesses had proven hard to come by, Dove allegedly replied: "That may be a good thing or a bad thing," adding that Vera wasn't "a choirboy."
Both Peters and Sierra warned Dove that his career would be ruined if he didn't hand Sanchez over to police.
Dove also asked to meet with Jennifer Selber, chief of the Homicide Unit in the District Attorney's Office, as a "friend" to discuss someone "very close to him" who might have been involved in a murder.
Selber told him to do everything he could to get Sanchez to surrender.
Sanchez was arrested a month after Vera's 2013 murder.
Dove, meanwhile, was officially charged yesterday with hindering apprehension or prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing administration of law and related offenses.
"Ron never believed he was helping a criminal. He believed he was protecting a victim of domestic violence who acted in self-defense," said Dove's lawyer, Brian McMonagle.
"I know he deeply regrets that in his effort to protect her he brought heartache to the good men and women who he served with."
Williams noted that the grand jury is still investigating Dove's involvement with two other cases of which he'd been in charge: the unsolved July 1, 2010, murder of Leslie Delzingaro, gunned down in an Olney bar owned by Sanchez's father; and the May 2012 murder of Melanie Colon, last seen with a man named Reynaldo Torres, who also vanished.
"We've been waiting for him to go to jail, because that's where he belongs," Eileen DiFrancesco, Delzingaro's mother, said last night.
"We just want to see him held accountable. These are the cases we know about. What else was he doing that the police didn't know about?"