CASE UPDATE: Former Philadelphia City Representative Pleads Guilty, Sentenced for Theft

May 10, 2019 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that Desiree Peterkin-Bell pled guilty and was sentenced for committing theft while employed as Philadelphia City Representative from 2013-2015. She was sentenced to 90 days to 23 months of house arrest followed by 12 months of probation and ordered to pay $19,807.23 in restitution through a settlement agreement with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics.

“This defendant took advantage of her high-ranking position of public trust and used taxpayer dollars to enrich herself and fund her own lavish lifestyle,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “I’m grateful for the hard work of the Grand Jurors and my Office to hold her accountable for her theft and deliver justice to the people of Philadelphia. My Office will aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who abuses their position of power—without fear or favor.”

Peterkin-Bell was arrested and charged in November 2018 after a statewide investigating Grand Jury found that she misused two credit cards belonging to a city-related non-profit organization known as the Fund for Philadelphia. She used the cards to make $19,807.23 in credit card purchases for Uber rides, restaurants, travel, hotels, memberships, clothing and goods, and other personal expenditures that were not business or job related. The Grand Jury also found evidence that she illegally used $225,000 of public dollars designated for City services related to the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic bike race to satisfy multiple other debts which she incurred in relation to other City events and contracts.

Peterkin-Bell pled guilty to Statement of Financial Interests, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Theft by Receiving Stolen Property, Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds, Tampering with Public Records, and Misapplication of Entrusted Property. The plea was entered before Judge Scott DiClaudio in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Kirk Handrich.

Attorney General Shapiro has made investigating and prosecuting public corruption cases a top priority of his office. Recently, former Mercer County District Attorney Miles Karson was sentenced for Obstructing the Administration of Law and former Northumberland County Prothonotary Justin Dunkelberger was charged with theft.

# # #