A veteran Philadelphia police officer has been charged with soliciting an undercover officer he thought was a teenage boy, authorities said yesterday.
The yearlong investigation began after a 15-year-old Northeast Philadelphia boy told police that a man had approached him and 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.
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, DiLacqua said.
"I also have to admit that we got a little lucky," he said. "It's a bit like fishing. We threw bait out there in a very big lake."
DiLacqua said that the undercover officer appears to be a minor, and that Makuch "actually made comments about him being underage."
DiLacqua said Makuch had offered the undercover officer money to take nude photographs of him and then solicited him for sex.
Makuch, 49, was arrested at Internal Affairs headquarters Tuesday and charged with unlawful contact with a minor, luring, and other offenses. He was 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 for him.
Makuch has worked for the Crime Scene Unit for nine years. In October, the FBI honored him for his assistance in the investigation of a 2007 armed robbery at a pharmacy.
DiLacqua said Makuch had 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.
The boy who contacted police said Makuch had first approached him in the summer of 2008. He went to police after seeing Makuch driving around again last December.
"I guess he didn't see this as a one-time threat," DiLacqua said of the boy.
He said that the boy had not known Makuch was a police officer and that the two had no previous contact. Makuch also lives in the Northeast, but not near the boy.