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United States of America v. Kidada Savage

November 20, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Surrick, J.


Presently before the Court is Defendant Kidada Savage's Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence Seized from Defendant's Apartment and Automobile and Request For a Franks Hearing. (ECF No. 443.) For the following reasons, the Motion and Request will be denied.


On June 22, 2011, a federal grand jury in Philadelphia returned a seventeen-count Second Superseding Indictment charging Defendant Kidada Savage with: conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) (Count 1); six counts of murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1) (Counts 10-15); retaliating against a witness, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1513 (Count 16); and use of fire to commit a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(h)(1), (h)(2) (Count 17). (Second Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 229.)*fn2 In the Second, Third, and Fourth Superseding Indictments, Defendant was charged, along with three co-defendants - her brother Kaboni Savage, Robert Merritt, and Steven Northington.*fn3

On March 14, 2011, the Government filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty against Kaboni Savage, Robert Merritt, and Steven Northington pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3591, et seq. (ECF Nos. 196, 197, 198.) The Government is not seeking the death penalty for Kidada Savage.

The Fourth Superseding Indictment alleges that Defendant was an enforcer for Kaboni Savage's drug organization who participated in murders, murder conspiracy, arson, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, witness tampering, and witness retaliation. (Fourth Superseding Indictment 9, ECF No. 480.) Specifically, the Fourth Superseding Indictment alleges that Defendant: threatened a number of potential witnesses and their families related to possible testimony against her brother,*fn4 enabled threats being issued to witnesses by serving as a conduit and performing research on witnesses and their families (id. at 23-24), contributed names to the Internet website "" (id. at 28-29), and conspired with others and facilitated the arson-murders of six individuals, including four children, at witness Coleman's home, located at 3256 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (id. at 21-23).*fn5

Pursuant to the Second Superseding Indictment and a bench warrant issued by the Honorable Elizabeth T. Hey, United States Magistrate Judge (Order for Bench Warrant, ECF No. 231), Defendant was arrested on June 22, 2011. (Def.'s Mot. Preclude Death Penalty 6, ECF No. 336.) On March 30, 2012, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence Seized From Her Apartment and From the Search of Her 2005 Nissan Altima and to Request a Franks Hearing. (Def.'s Suppression Mot., ECF No. 443.) The Government filed an Omnibus Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motions to Suppress Physical Evidence Obtained Pursuant to Valid Search Warrants. (Gov't's Resp., ECF No. 466.)

A suppression hearing was held on June 11 and 12, 2012. (Min. Entries, ECF No. 516, 519.) At the hearing, the Government presented testimony from Kevin Lewis, a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). (June 11, 2012 Hr'g Tr. 10 (on file with Court).) Special Agent Lewis has been the case agent for the FBI investigation into the Kaboni Savage Organization ("KSO") for the past thirteen years. (Id. at 11.) As case agent, Special Agent Lewis was heavily involved in wiretap applications and field work related to the KSO investigation. (Id. at 11, 36, 231-48.) Defendant offered no evidence or testimony at the suppression hearings.

The testimony of Special Agent Lewis was credible.


On June 22, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a seventeen-count Second Superseding Indictment, which charged Defendant with nine separate counts. (Second Superseding Indictment.) As part of the Second Superseding Indictment, the grand jury issued a Notice of Forfeiture. (Id. at 63-64.) Without identifying specific real property subject to forfeiture, the Notice indicated that Defendant shall forfeit "any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, from racketeering activity or unlawful debt collection in violation of Section 1962." (Id. at 64.) The Notice of Forfeiture was filed pursuant to, and tracked the language of, 18 U.S.C. § 1963(a). (Id.)

Following the grand jury's return of the Second Superseding Indictment and Notice of Forfeiture on June 22, 2011, Special Agent Lewis, his partner, Tom Zielinski, a Detective in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, and Philadelphia Police Department Homicide Detective Kenneth Rossiter went to Dresher, Pennsylvania to arrest Defendant at her place of employment, Prudential Annuities. (June 11 Hr'g Tr. 74, 162, 229-30, 239.) Although Special Agent Lewis intended to arrest Defendant the following day, he expedited the process due to attention from the media, which he believed might increase the risk of flight. (Id. at 249.) Before effectuating the arrest, Special Agent Lewis contacted a representative in the Human Resources Department of Prudential to discuss the situation. (Id. at 230.) Special Agent Lewis arrived at Prudential's facilities at approximately 1:00 p.m. and met with Defendant in a conference room. (Id. at 230-31, 250.) At that time, Special Agent Lewis informed Defendant that she was under arrest and placed her in handcuffs. (Id. at 230-31, 251.) During this initial period, Defendant was kept in a separate room while Special Agent Lewis attempted to arrange a disruption free exit from the facility. (Id.) Unprovoked, Defendant repeatedly asked Special Agent Lewis why he would believe a "Syruphead." (Id. at 230-31.) Defendant was talking about Lamont Lewis. (Id. at 231.) Defendant inquired about her property at Prudential, including her vehicle, a Nissan Altima, VIN No. 1N4AL11D95C171002, which had been purchased in 2004. (Id. at 231-32, 257, 273.) Defendant said that she wanted to have someone come and pick up her vehicle. (Id. at 231-32.) Special Agent Lewis replied to Defendant that her vehicle was being seized for forfeiture, and Defendant gave the keys to the vehicle to the law enforcement officials. (Id.)

Special Agent Lewis had concluded that Defendant's vehicle was subject to forfeiture as part of the proceeds of the KSO racketeering activity. (Id. at 232.) Specifically, Special Agent Lewis testified that "Kaboni Savage, during the course of the cell block wiretap, repeatedly told individuals that he had purchased that car for Kidada Savage, and Kidada Savage had told other witnesses that the car had been purchased for her by Kaboni Savage." (Id. at 233.) Savage's admissions regarding the purchase of the Altima for Defendant were made in recorded conversations through the toilet bowl in Savage's cell at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia. (Id. at 254-56.) At least one other witness confirmed Savage's purchase of the automobile on behalf of the Defendant. (Id.) Special Agent Lewis testified that individuals in the FBI's forfeiture department obtained records on Defendant's automobile and learned that the vehicle was originally registered in the name of Defendant's sister, Conchetta, but was changed to Defendant's name at some point. (Id. at 257.) Title documentation relating to Defendant's vehicle was obtained approximately one month before Defendant's arrest. (Id. at 259.)

In addition, Kaboni Savage had previously informed Special Agent Lewis that he had never held lawful employment. (Id. at 233.) From his time as the case agent investigating the KSO, Special Agent Lewis had known Kaboni Savage to earn income only by way of moving drugs or other illegal activity. (Id.) The information obtained by Special Agent Lewis with regard to the purchase of Defendant's automobile was from a combination of witness interviews, grand jury testimony, and wiretap evidence. (Id. at 271.)

Following her arrest, Defendant's automobile was transported to the basement of the Federal Building by an FBI agent. (Id.) Special Agent Lewis then directed another agent, Special Agent Bob Parks, to perform an inventory search of Defendant's vehicle. (Id. at 233-35.) Special Agent Lewis testified that it is the policy of the FBI to perform an inventory search of every vehicle seized by the FBI to ensure that the FBI can accurately account for property located in the automobile and to guarantee the safety of the facility in which the vehicle is being stored. (Id. at 234.) FBI policy does not limit where agents can search during an inventory search of a forfeited vehicle. (Id. at 275.)

During his inventory search of Defendant's vehicle, Special Agent Parks identified a piece of paper in the center console of the automobile, which contained the name of a witness known to him. (Id. at 235.) Special Agent Parks directed Detective Zielinkski's attention to this piece of paper. (Id.) Eventually, this evidence was shown to Special Agent Lewis. (Id.) Upon reviewing the paper recovered from Defendant's automobile, Special Agent Lewis noticed that the paper contained the name and address of multiple witnesses that had been involved in the 2005 federal drug conspiracy investigation into the KSO and who were potential witnesses in the current investigation into racketeering activity and related murders. (Id. at 236.)

In addition to the paper with witness names and addresses, the inventory search of Defendant's vehicle revealed a letter from Dawud Bey to Defendant, paperwork related to Defendant's purchase of a firearm, and a article, published on June 20, 2004, about a plea agreement involving Craig Oliver in the 2005 federal drug conspiracy case against Kaboni Savage. (Id. at 272.) In addition, Special Agent Lewis testified that the FBI was aware Defendant had purchased a firearm prior to her arrest, and ...

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