Plumber testifies in drug squad trial that police burst in, took tuition money from safe

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PHILADELPHIA — A plumber told jurors in a police corruption trial that undercover agents burst into his home, took $10,000 in tuition money from a safe and planted methamphetamine and a digital scale.

Police paperwork showed the officers now on trial reported only finding only $8,000 in the safe. Prosecutors also said the officers also reported only about half of the $1,200 that plumber Theodore Carobine had in his pocket.

The testimony Friday came in the trial of six former drug squad officers charged with stealing cash and drugs from suspects, planting evidence and lying in court.

Carobine said he spent five weeks in prison after falsely being charged with dealing methamphetamine in 2009. However, defense lawyer Jack McMahon questioned Friday why he would keep so much legally obtained cash in home safes. And he noted that two of Carobine's friends were charged with selling methamphetamine the same day.

Carobine said he kept his daughter's La Salle University tuition money locked up in a safe so he wouldn't spend it. He said he had paid $7,100 in cash toward the tuition just the day before. He also kept a loaded handgun and Percocet for a work injury in a bedroom safe.

He is one of scores of people who have filed civil lawsuits against the drug squad officers now on trial in a sweeping racketeering case.

Former squad member Jeffrey Walker testified against six former colleagues for several days this week as part of a plea agreement. Walker said he and others planted evidence against drug suspects, stole large sums of cash and assaulted people to get information.

Defense lawyers have tried to discredit Walker, a 24-year police veteran now in prison, as a lying thief who acted alone.

Both the civil lawsuits and Walker's sentencing are on hold until the trial concludes. At least 160 convictions have also been overturned since city and federal prosecutors stopped using the defendants in court as complaints about their credibility grew.

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