A veteran Philadelphia police officer has been charged with soliciting an undercover officer he thought was a teenage boy, authorities said today.
The yearlong investigation began after a 15-year-old Northeast Philadelphia boy told police that he had been approached by a man who offered money to take nude photographs, Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua told reporters.
The boy refused, but he later saw the same man driving around the neighborhood. He copied down the license plate and contacted police, DiLacqua said.
The car belonged to Adrian Makuch, a 21-year veteran of the force.
Investigators started surveillance, DiLacqua said "and we began to see a pattern that was very alarming."
Makuch, he said, appeared to be driving around looking for boys. Investigators placed an undercover officer on the streets and Makuch eventually made contact.
"I also have to admit that we got a little lucky," DiLacqua said. "It's a bit like fishing. We threw bait out there in a very big lake."
DiLacqua said the undercover officer appears to be a minor and Makuch "actually made comments about him being underage."
Makuch offered the undercover officer money to take nude photographs of him, and then solicited him for sex, DiLacqua said.
Makuch, 49, was arrested at Internal Affairs headquarters on Tuesday afternoon and charged with unlawful contact with a minor, luring and other offenses. He has been suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss.
"He was surprised when we told him he had to surrender his weapon and he was being arrested," DiLacqua said. "He was unaware of this investigation."
Makuch could not be reached for comment last night and online court records do not list an attorney representing him.
Makuch has worked for the Crime Scene Unit for the past nine years. In October, the FBI honored him for his assistance in the investigation of a 2007 armed robbery at a pharmacy.
DiLacqua said that Makuch never worked with the Police Athletic League or any other department initiative that would have put him in supervision of children.
Makuch also did not have anything in his personnel record "to lead us to suspect this," DiLacqua said. Makuch is single and has no children.
DiLacqua said the investigation is continuing and there could be more victims who have not come forward.
The boy who contacted police said Makuch first approached him in the summer of 2008. He went to the police after seeing Makuch driving around the neighborhood again that December.
"I guess he didn't see this as a one-time threat," DiLacqua said of the boy.
He said the boy did not know Makuch was a police officer, and the two had no prior contact. Although Makuch also lives in the Northeast, he does not live near the boy.