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Extreme Case of Witness Intimidation In Case Of Six Slain Victims In Philadelphia By Drug Crew

January 23, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Extreme Case of Witness Intimidation In Case Of Six Slain Victims In Philadelphia By Drug Crew Image courtesy of nbcphiladelphia.com

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Philadelphia drug trafficker Kaboni Savage and members of his criminal enterprise went to any length when it came to witness intimidation.

An horrific example was the tragic firebombing, which led to the deaths of six members of a federal witness’ family, which was in retaliation for him cooperating with Federal law enforcement.

However a massive investigation involving three Federal agencies managed to convict Kaboni Savage for the six murders, and proved he was responsible for at least six others as the head of a violent drug trafficking crew, who would go after anyone who threatened its drug trade.

A few months ago, the final defendant in the case, the man, who Feds believe was responsible for carrying out the firebombing on orders from Savage, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

As for Savage, he ended up blowing trial and was convicted in 2013 on murder and racketeering charges. A federal judge sentenced Savage to death.

In the late 1990s, Kaboni—then a small-time drug dealer—began buying cocaine in bulk and building his criminal organization.

He was making a name for himself, especially for his often-brutal methods of operation— which included murders, beatings, kidnappings, and threats—against anyone who crossed him (customers, rival gang members, his own underlings, even law enforcement).

Law enforcement, however, had Kaboni in their cross hairs, and he and his organization soon became the focus of an investigation by the Philadelphia FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, made up of local, state, and federal agencies.

In May 2004, Kaboni and others were indicted for conspiring to distribute cocaine, money laundering, firearms offenses, and later on, witness intimidation. The perpetrators were arrested and held for trial.

It was from jail that Savage orchestrated the arson murder of six members of Eugene Coleman’s family. Coleman, a member of Savage’s gang who was among those named in the May 2004 indictment, had agreed to cooperate in the case.

Through visits with family members—including his sister, Kidada—and surreptitious phone calls with other gang members, Savage planned the murders and solicited the help of his sister and two other gang members—Lamont Lewis and Robert Merritt.

Kidada Savage passed the plan on to the other two and identified the Coleman home.

Then Lewis and Merritt, in the early morning hours of October 9, 2004, drove to the Philadelphia house, fired warning shots into the residence, and threw two full gasoline cans with a lit cloth fuse into the home.

After extinguishing the flames, the fire department found the bodies of six victims—Coleman’s 54-year-old mother, his 15-month-old son, and four other relatives, including a 10-year-old girl and 12- and 15-year-old boys. (Coleman was incarcerated at the time of the arson.)

Through investigative techniques like court-authorized electronic surveillance and the use of informants, members of the task force were eventually able to collect evidence—some of it in Kaboni Savage’s own words—of how the plot was hatched and carried out.

Kaboni Savage and four of his associates went to trial in November 2004 on the initial drug trafficking charges—14 others had already pled guilty before trial—and were convicted and sentenced.

Eventually, though, Kaboni Savage and a number of his associates—including Kidada Savage—were indicted and ultimately convicted by a federal grand jury looking into the arson deaths of Coleman’s family.

By the time it was all over, Kaboni Savage’s criminal organization was dismantled due to former associates and others key witnesses who turned state’s evidence and testified against him.

From the DOJ

Warning Graphic Language

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