Philadelphia Police Department spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore calls the case of the stolen water “strange,” but for Duane Mashore, who was arrested and locked in a cell for 14 hours on charges that he stole water from his neighbor’s outdoor faucet, it’s gone from strange to downright scary.
“If this had happened to someone else, I’d be laughing … and I wouldn’t believe what they were saying,” sighs Mashore, a 38-year-old cab driver now facing charges of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft of service.
About 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 10, Mashore was inside his Tacony duplex sleeping off the night shift when his roommate’s 11-year-old son shook him awake to tell him cops were at the door. Mashore thought the kid was joking and sent him away. But when Mashore heard a male voice ask, “Do you want us to knock down the door?” he shot awake and dashed to the front door. Nine cops were outside; the street was blocked off.
Mashore says that Sgt. Kevin McDevitt of the 15th Precinct left the eight officers outside, pushed into the house and said: “If you’re going to be cooperative I won’t handcuff you.”
Mashore, who is 6-feet-3-inches tall and who weighs about 425 pounds, recalls asking the officer: “Why would I not be cooperative? I just woke up. I have no clue … why you’re here.”
According to Mashore, that’s when McDevitt told him: “We’re here because you’ve been stealing water from your neighbor’s spigot.”
“I looked at him and said, ‘You must be joking!’” says Mashore, who once worked in theft-prevention at a retail store and as a correctional officer at Graterford Prison.
It wasn’t a joke.
Mashore claims McDevitt told him that the complainant was the owner of the duplex next door, and that both he (McDevitt) and the complainant witnessed Mashore stealing water from the spigot to fill a mini-pool in his backyard.
Mashore says the sergeant told him he had to accompany the officers back to the 15th District to “talk about it.” So he went along willingly in the sergeant’s SUV. “I thought I was going to make heads or tails of the situation,” he says.
Mashore was transported to the Roundhouse, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and left in a cell for 14 hours. At 3:30 a.m., he was ushered into a room where his preliminary arraignment was conducted via video. He signed himself out after being informed of the charges against him and given a court date for the end of September.
Mashore insists he’s never used his neighbor’s spigot and adds: “The pool is the domain of the kid.” Mashore also claims he has no idea whether his roommate, 48-year-old Kathleen Iuliano, or her son ever used the neighbor’s hose. Iuliano denies ever using the neighbor’s spigot.
There are plenty of bizarre aspects of this case to go around.
Let’s say Mashore did steal the water from his neighbor. According to the police report, the 3,800-gallon pool was one-third full. Since city tap water costs .007 cents per gallon and we’re talking about approximately 1,267 gallons of water, that means Mashore was arrested for allegedly stealing about $8.87 worth of water. Why would the city—short on cash and cops—deploy nine officers and spend thousands in court fees for what amounts to a summary offense?
Mashore believes that he is the target of retaliation linked to a disgraced ex-Philadelphia police officer.
According to the arrest record: “While checking on the property [the complainant] owns, the complainant relayed to detectives that … he observed a water hose connected to the outside water faucet, which was on. The water hose ran from his property to a pool on the property of 6xxx Edmund Street.”
While he was at the 15th District, he noticed a man not in uniform walking around like he owned the place. “He’s shaking people’s hands, talking to people and he’s in civilian clothes,” says Mashore. “I know for a fact that I can’t just stroll in there.”
Citing city policy, the PPD would not reveal the complainant’s name. But as Mashore would later find out, the man was Anthony Floyd. Tax records confirm Floyd owns the house next door, though neighbors say he rents it to tenants.
Floyd is a 26-year veteran of the Police Department who made headlines in May when he opted for the PPD’s early retirement package—the one routinely offered to cops about to be slapped with criminal charges. The next day, Floyd was formally charged with stalking, harassment and related charges. Newspaper reports indicate that the target of harassment was Floyd’s one-time mistress.