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Drug-addicted Philly ex-cop gets probation for theft

A former Philadelphia police officer who stole a debit card from a prisoner was sentenced by a federal judge to three years probation today.

Charles Jacoby III, 31, worked as a patrol officer and cell block attendant in the 22nd police district. Jacoby, of Burholme in the far Northeast, was supposed to safeguard personal items taken from those he recently arrested or prisoners he guarded.

Instead, prosecutors said the 10-year veteran stole their debit and credit cards and used them to buy things for himself.

At a sentencing today, U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky ordered Jacoby to serve the first nine months of his three year probation under house arrest with electronic monitoring and fined him $1,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Brenner said Jacoby targeted individuals who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he was patrolling the streets.

When he was working the cell block, Brenner said Jacoby targeted inmates who he thought were acting "rowdy."

Brenner likened the ex-cop to a "pickpocket" whose behavior was "startling and stunning."

The prosecutor asked Slomsky to draw a "bright line" to send a message to other cops who might be considering criminal misdeeds. Seeking a sentence of 18 to 24 months - well above the recommended guideline sentence of zero to six months, Brenner called Jacoby's crime "startling and stunning."

Brenner said the sentencing guidelines didn't account for the fact Jacoby's crimes had undermined public confidence in the integrity of the Philadelphia Police Department.

But Slomsky said the guidelines took account of Jacoby's abuse of the public trust and that there were mitigating circumstances. Jacoby has a history of alcohol abuse and is addicted to prescription painkillers.

Defense attorney David Averett said Jacoby became addicted to prescription painkillers after a job-related injury sidelined him for two years beginning in 2006.

Jacoby said drug dependency affected everything he did, adding, "Everything fell into a downward spiral and I started taking things."

At one point, he choked up, saying, "I wanted to be a police officer since I was six years old.

According to court testimony, Jacoby recently submitted five urine samples to the U.S. probation department. Each tested positive for opiates and oxycodone.

Jacoby was fired from the force in November. He pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in October.

Brenner said that Jacoby "admittedly stole from many" victims but the government was able to identify only one victim - a reputed crack dealer who was locked inside a prison cell - at the time Jacoby stole the dealer's debit card, sometime between January and April 2011.

Brenner said Jacoby then used the debit card to fill up his personal vehicle with gas and buy sundry items at a Philadelphia Wawa store, the charges totaling $67.28.