United States Attorney McSwain Announces Violent Crime and Gun Charges in Two Philadelphia Cases Mishandled by the District Attorney’s Office
U.S. Attorney McSwain also detailed ten murder cases in which the defendant was on the street because of overly lenient plea deals given out by the DA’s Office
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Khalif Tuggle, 28, and John Allen Kane, 53, both of Philadelphia, PA, were arrested and charged by federal Indictment after their local cases were mishandled by the District Attorney’s Office. In a press conference outside the federal courthouse, U.S. Attorney McSwain discussed the charges against Tuggle and Kane in the context of efforts by his Office to fight the tidal wave of violent crime that has engulfed Philadelphia in 2020.
Tuggle has been charged in a three-count Indictment with carjacking, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and murder in the course of using a firearm, all stemming from his alleged robbery, carjacking, and brutal murder of Thomas Petersen on January 24, 2017. Tuggle allegedly fired a shot into Mr. Petersen’s chest, dragged him out of the car, threw him on the road, robbed him, and left him for dead while Mr. Petersen was screaming in pain. Tuggle fled the scene in Mr. Petersen’s car, and Mr. Petersen died at Temple University Hospital after two Philadelphia Police Officers rushed him there from the crime scene.
Kane has been charged in a one-count Indictment with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on January 17, 2018. Kane allegedly possessed this firearm while on probation for committing his second homicide in Philadelphia.
U.S. Attorney McSwain explained thatthese cases are prime examples of how local criminal justice policies benefit violent criminals and harm crime victims. In the Tuggle case, the District Attorney’s Office agreed not to prosecute the defendant for either first or second degree murder in exchange for information on Tuggle’s accomplice that never materialized – thus eliminating the possibility that Tuggle would serve a life sentence for killing Petersen. Under his current sentence, Tuggle would be eligible for parole in approximately only ten years. If convicted of the federal charges, he faces the possibility of life imprisonment.
In the Kane case, the Philadelphia Police recovered a firearm in the defendant’s possession after a traffic stop and placed him under arrest. As a convicted felon, Kane was prohibited from possessing any firearms. But he was not just any convicted felon – at the time of the traffic stop, he was on probation for committing his second homicide in Philadelphia. But the District Attorney’s Office saw fit to voluntarily dismiss the charges against Kane on a technicality and he walked free. That is, until now: Kane has been arrested on the federal charge and is in federal custody.
“The federal cases against defendants Tuggle and Kane are the latest efforts by my Office to serve as a counterweight to the chaos in Philadelphia created by local criminal justice policies that coddle violent criminals,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “These policies create a culture of lawlessness; they leave criminals emboldened; and they have inevitable consequences – one of which is a murder rate in Philadelphia that is the highest it has been in nearly 15 years.”
U.S. Attorney McSwain went on to detail ten additional cases that are examples of shockingly lenient plea deals given out by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office where the defendant was subsequently arrested for murder.
- In October 2018, Michael Banks was arrested and charged with multiple counts, including a felony gun charge for possessing an unlicensed firearm. Banks also had prior convictions, and yet in February 2019, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office gave him a plea deal in which the felony gun charge was dismissed, and he received only 3-9 months of incarceration for a misdemeanor gun charge and immediately went back out on the street. Banks now stands accused of murdering a seven year-old boy in West Philadelphia last month, who was playing with a toy on his family’s porch when two groups of men began firing upon one another and shot the boy in the head.
- In November 2017, Francisco Reyes was arrested and charged with multiple drug offenses. Despite his prior convictions – which include aggravated assault, robbery, and multiple other prior drug offenses – Reyes was given a plea deal in July 2018 in which the felony drug charge was dismissed and he received probation. Only two days after he pleaded guilty and received probation, on July 5, 2018, Reyes allegedly murdered a 25 year-old man in Kensington.
- In September 2018, Jerome Martin was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, which is a felony. He had previously been convicted of felony drug dealing and possessing drug paraphernalia. Somehow, Martin was given a plea deal in June 2019 in which he was sentenced to house arrest. While on house arrest, in August 2019, he allegedly broke into a house and murdered a 23 year-old man, who is survived by many, including his newborn baby.
- In February 2018, Keith Garner was arrested and charged with simple assault. Despite having multiple prior felony convictions, Garner was given a plea deal in March 2018 to probation. In November 2018, Garner executed four people in a West Philadelphia basement, and has been convicted of all four murders.
- In March 2017, Timothy Sherfield was arrested and charged with numerous violent crimes, including two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of robbery, burglary, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and many additional misdemeanors. In February 2018, he was given a plea deal in which the vast majority of these charges were dropped. Sherfield received a minimum sentence of less than one year. This enabled him to be out on the streets and murder a 23 year-old man in April 2019. The victim was inside a mini market at the time that he was gunned down in cold blood.
- In May 2017, Tariq Gant was arrested and charged with a variety of violent crimes, including aggravated assault and firearm offenses. But in February 2018, he was given a plea deal in which the vast majority of the charges were dropped. Gant pleaded guilty to simple assault and resisting arrest, and received probation. In September 2018, he allegedly murdered a 19 year-old young man in Germantown. The victim is survived by his mother, who in addition to losing this son, also tragically lost another son who was gunned down earlier this year.
- In October 2017, Jose Lugo was arrested and charged with felony drug offenses. Despite having previously been convicted of numerous felony drug crimes and carrying a firearm without a license, he was given a plea deal in September 2018 in which he was immediately released. Just months later, in February 2019, Lugo allegedly murdered a 24 year-old man.
- In March 2018, Byron Taylor was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including felony possession of an unlicensed firearm. Despite his prior convictions, he was given a plea deal in May 2019 in which the felony gun charge was dismissed and he received probation. Almost immediately, in July 2019, Taylor allegedly shot and killed a 35 year-old man in Germantown.
- In January 2018, Rasheed Malcolm was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including aggravated assault, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person. Despite his prior felony drug distribution convictions, he was given a plea deal in which all of these charges were dropped, and he was permitted to plead guilty to the summary offense of disorderly conduct. By the end of the year, in December 2018, Malcolm allegedly murdered a 27 year-old man in the 6200 block of Market Street.
- In June 2018, Maalik Jackson-Wallace was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including felony possession of a firearm without a license. The District Attorney’s Office then selected him to participate in its Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD) – a diversion program in which defendants can avoid a conviction if they comply with certain conditions. This diversion allowed Jackson-Wallace to walk away free. He was then arrested with a second illegal firearm while in the program, but the District Attorney’s Office did not move for him to be taken out of ARD at that time. In June 2019, Jackson-Wallace allegedly murdered a 26 year-old man in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.
“Convicted felons who carry firearms pose a serious risk to public safety,” said John Schmidt, acting Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “ATF will continue to aggressively pursue these investigations and strive to be ‘no better partner’ to our local, state and federal colleagues. Thanks to the diligent work of the investigators and detectives of the Philadelphia Police Department, these individuals will be brought to justice preventing another potential violent crime or death. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office for their guidance and work prosecuting these cases.”
If convicted on each count, Tuggle faces a total maximum sentence of life imprisonment, five years of supervised release, a $750,000 fine, and a $300 special assessment; Kane faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
Both cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case against Tuggle is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph LaBar and Michael Miller, and the case against Kane is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Zaleski.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.