Philadelphia Man Charged For Throwing Three Incendiary Bombs at Residences in Northeast Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, PA – On September 14, 2020, United States Attorney William M. McSwain convened a press conference to announce charges against Khalif Tuggle and John Allen Kane, both of Philadelphia. The United States Attorney’s Office stepped in to bring federal charges in both cases after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office failed to handle the local criminal cases appropriately. U.S. Attorney McSwain also spoke about the ongoing escalation of violent crime in Philadelphia and its causes. He highlighted several local cases in which the defendants received shockingly lenient plea deals from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, returned to the streets and then allegedly committed murder. These cases highlight an undeniable pattern of cause and effect in which the application of the District Attorney’s Office’s misguided policies produce violence and tragedy.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Good morning. I am here today to announce that my Office has unsealed two criminal indictments charging two individuals, Khalif Tuggle and John Allen Kane, with committing serious federal crimes on the streets of Philadelphia. Both cases are part of my Office’s continuing efforts to fight the tidal wave of violent crime in the City that is the unfortunate result of local criminal justice policies that coddle violent criminals. 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.
The two indictments announced today are the latest efforts by my Office to serve as a counterweight to this chaos. First, Khalif Tuggle, age 28, 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. If convicted on each count, Tuggle faces a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Second, John Allen Kane, age 53, 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. If convicted, Kane faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
I would like to thank our law enforcement partners whose investigative work made these indictments possible. From the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which investigated both cases, I want to thank John Schmidt, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, and the law enforcement agents who investigated the cases. I also want to thank the Philadelphia Police Department for its assistance in both cases. And thank you to Sal Astolfi, the Chief of the Violent Crime unit in my Office, and Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Labar, Michael Miller, and Tom Zaleski, who are prosecuting these important cases.
Both the Tuggle and the Kane cases are prime examples of how local criminal justice policies benefit violent criminals and harm crime victims. After Mr. Petersen was murdered in cold blood on January 24, 2017, the Philadelphia Police charged Tuggle with first degree murder, firearms offenses, theft, and receipt of stolen property, and he was held without bail until trial. As Tuggle sat in jail awaiting trial for first degree murder, he caught a big break – in January 2018, there was a change in leadership in the District Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia: the Krasner administration took over. This new administration subsequently agreed not to prosecute Tuggle for either first or second degree murder, thus eliminating the possibility that he would serve a life sentence for killing Mr. Petersen. Instead, the District Attorney’s Office permitted Tuggle to plead guilty to third degree murder, ostensibly because he agreed to cooperate with investigators to identify and prosecute his accomplice.
But the plea negotiations were a farce. For one thing, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the most serious charges without bothering to negotiate a “floor” for the sentence -- a minimum term of years that Tuggle would be required to serve for murdering Mr. Petersen. And incredibly, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to the deal without knowing whether the information Tuggle supposedly would provide would prove helpful, and without ensuring that Tuggle would actually identify his accomplice as promised.
In the end, he didn’t – and his accomplice remains on the loose. In other words, Tuggle got a huge break for nothing. The judge sentenced Tuggle to 13.5-27 years for third degree murder, and he will be eligible for parole in the state system in approximately ten years. That sentence is a miscarriage of justice. It is a cruel slap in the face to Mr. Petersen’s family – including his mother, Linda, and his sister, Heather, who are with us today for this announcement. It is something that I am determined to fix.
If convicted on the federal charges, Tuggle faces the very real possibility of life in prison with no possibility of parole.
As for John Kane, as noted in publicly filed documents, the Philadelphia Police recovered a firearm in his 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.
Armed murderers cannot be permitted to walk the streets of Philadelphia in the name of criminal justice reform. The staggering homicide and shooting rates in Philadelphia are proof that the District Attorney’s radical experiment has failed. Homicides, shootings, and serious violent crime have all skyrocketed in 2020 – from already intolerable levels that existed in 2019 and 2018. There have been 316 homicides since the beginning of the year – a 32% increase as compared to this time last year. The violence has been pervasive and it is destroying the soul of the City. In the last month alone, 48 people have been killed and hundreds have been shot. And the average age of the shooting victims is getting younger. Tragically, the vast majority of the victims are racial minorities. I can’t say it any clearer: the District Attorney’s policies come at the expense of minority communities.
We can draw a straight line from these policies to the carnage on the streets. My Office has examined the circumstances underlying many of the recent murder cases in the City and the inescapable conclusion is that a great number of these murders were made possible by the District Attorney’s Office’s willingness – indeed, its eagerness – to offer sweetheart plea deals to violent defendants. Deals that allowed those defendants to quickly get back out on the street and kill.
On this adjacent chart are 10 examples of this sad state of affairs:
Each of these cases is its own separate tragedy, with terrible ramifications that extend in many directions. And these ten cases only scratch the surface of the devastation that is being wrought by the District Attorney’s policies. The cases are merely examples – there are many others like these, in which violent defendants who should not be on the street are committing murder or other violent crimes. Furthermore, these are cases that have led to murder arrests. Most homicides in the City do not even result in an arrest, so it is chilling to think of the number of unsolved murders that have likely been committed by violent criminals who do not belong on the street – and are only there because the District Attorney put them there.
As I have said before, everybody in Philadelphia deserves to live in a safe neighborhood – regardless of race or income level. We won’t get there by treating violent criminals like they are victims, or by undermining law enforcement. We must have the courage and the will to enforce the law – and to hold criminals accountable. The future of our City depends upon it. We must put the law-abiding residents of this City first. Thank you.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
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