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United States of America v. Kaboni Savage Robert Merritt Steven

February 1, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
KABONI SAVAGE ROBERT MERRITT STEVEN
NORTHINGTON KIDADA SAVAGE



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

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants Kaboni Savage and Steven Northington's Motions to Suppress Physical Evidence Seized From 3643 North Darien Street and Request for a Franks Hearing. (ECF Nos. 400, 402.) For the following reasons, the Motions will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

A. Procedural History

On May 9, 2012, a federal grand jury returned a seventeen-count Fourth Superseding Indictment charging moving Defendant Kaboni Savage (hereinafter "Defendant") with conspiracy to participate in the affairs of a racketeering ("RICO") enterprise, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) (Count 1), twelve counts of murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1) (Counts 2-7, 10-15), conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) (Count 9), retaliating against a witness, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1513(a) (Count 16), and using fire to commit a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(h)(1) (Count 17). (Fourth Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 480.)*fn2 Defendant was charged along with three co-defendants, Steven Northington, Robert Merritt, and his sister, Kidada Savage. Lamont Lewis was also charged in the First Superseding Indictment. The charges against Lewis were disposed of by guilty plea on April 21, 2011. On March 14, 2011, the Government filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Defendant, Merritt, and Northington. (ECF Nos. 196, 197, 198.) The Government does not seek the death penalty against Kidada.

Defendant has filed the instant Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence Seized From 3643 North Darien Street and Request for a Franks Hearing. (Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 400.) Northington has also filed a Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence Seized From 3643 North Darien Street. (Northington Mot., ECF No. 402.) The Government has submitted an Omnibus Response. (Gov't's Resp., ECF No. 466.) Defendant filed a Reply to the Government's Response on May 30, 2012. (Def.'s Reply, ECF No. 502.) We held a suppression hearing on the Motion. (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.) Special Agent Lewis has been heavily involved in wiretap applications and field work related to the KSO investigation. (Id. at 11, 36, 231-48.)

B. Factual Background

On April 7, 2003, agents with the FBI and officers of the Philadelphia Police Department ("PPD") searched a building located at 3643 North Darien Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ("Darien"). The search was conducted pursuant to a warrant issued by United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter on April 4, 2003. (Warrant, Def.'s Mot. Ex. A.)

Darien is a "two story row home with a basement." (Warrant Attach. A.) The house has white siding, a front porch with a black and white awning, and a "grey rock front with [a] black steel door." (Id.) Prior to his incarceration, Darien was Defendant's home. At the time that the search warrant was issued and executed, Defendant was confined to his home while awaiting trial on murder charges in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. (Affidavit ¶¶ 25, 36, 58, Gov't's Resp. Ex. A.)

The Warrant application was supported by Special Agent Lewis's Affidavit ("Affidavit").*fn3 The Affidavit contains information obtained from confidential informants, intercepted wire and oral communications, and video surveillance of Palmetto. (See generally Affidavit ¶¶ 6-17.) The Affidavit begins with an extensive history of Defendant's involvement in illegal drug trafficking in Philadelphia and outlines evidence linking Defendant and his organization ("KSO") with illegal activity. (Id. at ¶¶ 19, et seq.)

On September 10, 1999, Defendant was arrested in Maple Shade, New Jersey on an outstanding Pennsylvania state warrant, which charged him in connection with the murder of Kenneth Lassiter. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Officers with the Maple Shade Police Department searched the apartment where Defendant was located and Defendant's vehicle pursuant to a search warrant. (Id.) Defendant filed a motion to suppress the fruits of these searches, which included controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. (ECF No. 418.)*fn4

On September 17, 1999, pursuant to a federal search warrant issued that day, FBI agents searched a self-storage unit located at Devon Self-Storage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which was registered to an individual named "Joseph Amill." Defendant filed a motion to suppress the fruits of this search, which included controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. (ECF No. 405.)*fn5

Defendant's involvement in the drug trade in the years prior to the execution of the Darien search was extensive. According to the Affidavit, since at least 1999, Defendant had been a "major supplier of cocaine . . . in the Philadelphia metropolitan area." (Affidavit ¶ 20.) Defendant's drug trafficking enterprise involved a host of other individuals, including Gerald Thomas, Kareem Bluntly, and others. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

Special Agent Lewis's personal observations, intercepted wire and oral communications, video surveillance, and statements from cooperating witnesses and confidential informants formed the bases for the Affidavit. In the Affidavit, Special Agent Lewis recounted, in detail, the topics discussed by Defendant and his alleged co-conspirators during intercepted telephone conversations from September through December of 2000. (Id. at ¶¶ 35-52.) These conversations centered primarily on the acquisition and trafficking of narcotics.

A telephone conversation intercepted on January 7, 2001, as well as telephone conversations intercepted over the course of the following days, indicated that on January 7, 2001, an individual named "Kurt" was assaulted by Defendant in the basement of Darien. (Id. at ¶¶ 53-54.) Defendant, upset that "Kurt" had tried to steal several thousand dollars, "pistol-whipped" him in the head. (Id. at ¶ 54.) In January 2001, confidential informant CI-1 informed the FBI that "Kurt" had managed to alert law enforcement while he was being beaten in the ...


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