A Philadelphia narcotics officer, caught in a police "integrity test" stealing $140 from an alleged drug dealer's Lexus, was sentenced Thursday to six to 12 months in prison.
Gerold Gibson was speechless for about 20 seconds when Common Pleas Court Judge Diana L. Anhalt asked if he had anything to say before sentencing.
Gibson, the former son-in-law of former Gov. Tom Corbett, haltingly said he had instilled a "strong sense of values" in his children. He added that he would never have stolen, because it would have dishonored his mother.
"I guess in my mind-set that day there was no one I was stealing from," Gibson said. "I didn't deprive anyone of anything."
Anhalt told Gibson he was "deluding" himself and reminded him of the secret videos played at his trial. The Lexus had been equipped with hidden cameras.
"Integrity is what you do when nobody else is watching," Anhalt said. "You were caught in a trap doing something when you thought nobody else was watching."
Anhalt told Gibson the sentencing was not about $140; it was about his willingness as a police officer to testify under oath and perjure himself.
Anhalt also sentenced Gibson to two years' probation when he gets out of a prison and said he would be eligible for work release while behind bars.
Defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. asked that Gibson be allowed to surrender after a work-release assignment is finalized, citing the danger for a police officer in prison.
"I told him to be ready," said Anhalt, who contended that prison officials would ensure his safety.
Gibson, 45, was found guilty of theft by deception, receiving stolen property, theft by failing to make required disposition of funds, obstruction of the administration of law, and tampering with evidence.
It was the second trial for Gibson. Last September, a jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Gibson was a veteran officer with the Narcotics Field Unit when videotaped searching the vehicle in January 2013. He is seen removing $40 cash from a pair of sweatpants and a roll of bills totaling $100 from the car's center console.
What Gibson did not know was that police Internal Affairs and the FBI had targeted him after fellow officers complained that Gibson lifted clothing and jewelry while searching drug suspects' homes.
Gibson's arrest was heavily reported in the media because he was then estranged from the daughter of the Pennsylvania governor. Katherine Corbett Gibson at the time was a prosecutor for the state Attorney General's Drug Strike Force. The couple have since divorced.
Peruto argued Thursday for probation, saying Gibson received especially tough treatment from the justice system because he was a police officer. Gibson's fiancee, his first ex-wife, one of his adult sons, and lawyer Jason Kadish praised his conduct as a father and friend.
Peruto said Gibson was in arrears on his mortgage and household bills at the time of the theft and has lost his job and police pension and is working at a $10-an-hour job.
"He has really suffered," Peruto added. "This is real tough for him to face. He threw everything away."
Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rhoads said prison time was appropriate because of the corrosive effect police corruption has on the "hearts and minds of the people he swore to protect."