NE Philly Dem's past a problem

Posted: May 19, 2014

A CANDIDATE in Tuesday's Democratic primary election for Northeast Philly's 173rd state House seat has arrest warrants pending in Canada and a local criminal history dating back two decades.

Two of the four charges Dennis Kilderry pleaded guilty to in a 1994 Bucks County car-theft case appear to be felonies.

Kilderry told the Daily News yesterday that his public defender in 1994 told him he was pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges.

The Pennsylvania Constitution bars felons from serving as elected officials.

A clerk at the Provincial Court of Edmonton in Canada yesterday said Kilderry has two active arrest warrants issued in April 2011. The clerk said those warrants were issued when Kilderry did not show up for a trial on charges in a hit-and-run car accident with a pedestrian in September 2010.

Kilderry, 38, this week said in a text message to the Daily News that he has a lawyer "looking into the circumstances and what my options may be."

Kilderry said he did not know about the Canadian warrants and described that situation as a "traffic summary violation" that he was late paying fines for. Those fines were paid in 2012, ending the matter, Kilderry said.

As for the Bucks County case, he calls that a mistake he made when he was 18 years old.

"I got in with the wrong crowd and did something I regret to this day," said Kilderry, an official with Insulators Union Local 14 and Democratic committeeman in the 55th Ward. "I paid the price and moved on with my life."

Kilderry was arrested in Bensalem with three friends while trying to steal a Camaro from an apartment parking lot.

The Bucks County District Attorney's Office charged Kilderry with two felonies and three misdemeanors. He pleaded guilty three months later to four of the charges and was sentenced to a county jail term of 21 days to 23 months.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler reviewed Kilderry's file and said two of the charges appear to be felonies.

Heckler explained that car break-ins are often pursued as misdemeanors but attempted car thefts are treated as felonies.

A Bensalem police report filed after Kilderry's arrest said "the steering column had been cut and an anti-theft device had been removed" from the Camaro.

An officer who attempted to interview Kilderry after his arrest wrote in that report that he "was very difficult to understand because he seemed to find it difficult to speak in complete sentences." The officer said Kilderry claimed "that he knew nothing about a blue Camaro."

Kilderry's campaign advertising promises to "secure funding from Harrisburg for additional police and fire personnel." The ad includes endorsements from a retired Philadelphia police officer and retired state trooper.

The 173rd District seat is open because state Rep. Mike McGeeha is retiring after 12 terms.

The Democratic City Committee has endorsed Mike Driscoll, an employee at the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union and co-owner of Finnigan's Wake, a bar popular for political events. Paul DeFinis, an auto-body-shop owner, is also running in the primary.

Mike Tomlinson, an accountant, is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN


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