Ex-police sergeant facing theft trial

Eastern Express Times (Pennsylvania), NEWS; Pg. B5
BYLINE: JD MALONE The Express-Times

Bethlehem, PA

SHE STOLE $19,000 from evidence room, Bethlehem cops say.

A former Bethlehem police sergeant accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the department's evidence room faces a possible trial.

Cheryl Ruth, 46, of Moore Township, used her role overseeing the department's evidence room to skim more than $19,000 from money seized during raids and other investigations, and gambled the money away at casinos, police said.

Ruth waived her preliminary hearing Tuesday before District Judge Roy Manwaring, sending charges of theft and receiving stolen property to Northampton County Court.

Her attorney, Philip Lauer, said he hoped to swiftly conclude Ruth's case and noted that she was a longtime employee of the city of Bethlehem.

She joined the force in 1988 and has since retired. For seven years she managed the evidence room, where police store a cornucopia of items: bicycles, guns, drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Police audited the room when Ruth was replaced in 2008. The audit showed missing funds, and a second audit came back with the same result, according to court papers. A complete audit of the entire room revealed just the money was missing, police said.

Ruth stole the money throughout her tenure, police said, with her largest thefts grouped in 2003 to 2005, when she took more than $15,000. Police said Ruth admitted the thefts during a polygraph test conducted by state police and said she spent the cash on her gambling habit.

The city pension ordinance does not bar Ruth from keeping her pension, police said.

She remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail.

Reporter JD Malone can be reached at 610-867-5000 or Talk about issues in your town at lehighvalleylive.com/forums.

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