Ex-police dispatcher, co-owner of tow-truck biz plead guilty in bribery case

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER William Cheeseman during a May court appearance.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER William Cheeseman during a May court appearance.
Posted: July 22, 2014

A FORMER Philadelphia police dispatcher and the co-owner of a Frankford auto-body shop pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a bribery scheme involving the tow-trucking biz.

Dorian Parsley, 44, the ex-dispatcher, admitted before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno that she had taken cash bribes from tow-truck operators in exchange for giving them confidential police information about the locations of accident scenes.

In a separate hearing before the judge, William Cheeseman, 43, co-owner of the K&B auto-body shop on Kinsey Street near Worth, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery.

Two other defendants, Stepfon Flowers and Chad Harris, who at times worked as tow-truck operators for K&B, are expected to enter guilty pleas tomorrow.

According to a federal indictment unsealed in May, Parsley circumvented the Police Department's rotational towing program by surreptitiously texting the locations of car accidents and disabled vehicles from her personal cellphone to the tow-truck operators, who paid her cash bribes for the information.

The rotational program was instituted in 2011 after a series of highly publicized, violent encounters among tow-truck operators competing for business. In one case in September 2010, a Philadelphia tow-truck driver killed a rival operator.

Under the newly instituted system, the location where a tow truck was needed was to remain confidential until given by police dispatch to the next tow-truck operator on the city's call list.

Parsley, by giving the tow-truck operators advance notice of the location of an accident, ended up giving those operators an unfair advantage, authorities said.

She pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy, solicitation of a bribe and honest-services fraud. The bespectacled former dispatcher with short hair told the judge yesterday that she is not currently working.

Parsley first accepted bribes from Flowers, who in turn introduced her to Cheeseman. She later began to accept bribes from Harris. In total, from April 2011 to December 2013, Parsley received $35,400 in bribes from the three men, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Chun Barry said.

Parsley, most recently of Van Kirk Street near Oakland in Oxford Circle, worked as a civilian dispatcher from January 1998 to November of last year, when she was transferred to a different department of the police force. She was fired from the force in May.

Cheeseman, of Delran, N.J., agreed in court that the value of the confidential tips he received from Parsley was potentially worth about $9,000. His lawyer, Fortunato Perri Jr., said afterward that Cheeseman did not personally go out to tow the vehicles when he got the information from Parsley, but instead had given the assignments to another tow-truck operator.

Parsley faces a maximum 35 years in prison when she is sentenced Oct. 21. Cheeseman faces a maximum of 10 years at his Oct. 24 sentencing.


On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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