Former Philadelphia Police Homicide Detective Ronald Dove will serve 30 days in prison after he pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping his girlfriend flee from arrest for the slaying of her former lover.
Dove, 44, bearded and in casual clothes, appeared contrite and embarrassed as he quietly replied "guilty" to six counts charging him with conspiracy, lying to authorities, and evidence tampering to cover up helping Erica Sanchez flee from Pennsylvania.
Throughout the hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge Carolyn Nichols, Dove avoided directly facing anyone who spoke to him. Head slightly bowed, he stared ahead.
"No, ma'am," Dove replied when Nichols asked if he had anything to say before sentencing.
Nichols then sentenced Dove according to the terms of his plea agreement with the District Attorney's Office: 23 months in prison but paroled after just 30 days, followed by three years of reporting probation. Dove, who is free on $25,000 bail, surrenders to prison July 24.
The judge also ordered Dove to undergo counseling to help him with his decision-making and the loss of his career.
"This is a very serious transition in his life," Nichols told defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle.
Dove's trial on the charges was to have begun Wednesday. For more than a year, McMonagle had maintained that Dove would not plead guilty.
But Dove's legal situation changed last November after Sanchez, 36, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the Sept. 8, 2013, stabbing of ex-lover Cesar Vera, 33, with whom she lived. Sanchez is awaiting sentencing.
Discussing the plea with Nichols, Assistant District Attorney Kirk Handrich, who prosecuted the case with Carlos Vega, said the evidence that would be used against Dove at trial included Sanchez' testimony.
Dove's life and 16-year police career began unraveling when Sanchez killed Vera outside a North Philadelphia after-hours club. She called Dove, who was on duty at the homicide unit.
Authorities said Dove immediately left and picked up Sanchez, abandoned her car at an auto body shop, and drove her to a Rochester, N.Y., hotel, at which he rented her a room.
As his colleagues worked to solve Vera's murder, Dove returned to New York and took Sanchez to Niagara Falls for two days.
Several weeks later, however, a remorseful Dove confessed to investigators. He said Sanchez had killed Vera in self-defense.
Sanchez surrendered to police on Oct. 13, 2013, and a month later Dove was fired from the Police Department.
Dove was not charged until January 2015, following an investigation by a Philadelphia grand jury.