U.S. attorney blames Krasner for spike in violence

Philly DA Larry Krasner
Courtesy of Philly DA’s Office

U.S. Attorney William McSwain on Monday blamed District Attorney Larry Krasner for Philadelphia’s rising gun violence, pointing to several cases he claims were mishandled.

Krasner’s office hit back, accusing McSwain of doing President Donald Trump’s bidding and lying to the press.

McSwain, during a press conference, announced federal charges against two men, Kalif Tuggle and John Allen Kane, actions he described as “a counterweight to the chaos” caused by Krasner.

The progressive district attorney has frequently drawn the ire of McSwain, who, on Monday, said a straight line can be drawn from Krasner’s policies to Philadelphia’s well-documented spike in violence.

“The staggering homicide and shooting rates in Philadelphia are proof that the district attorney’s radical experiment has failed,” McSwain said. “The violence has been pervasive and it is destroying the soul of the city.”

Homicides are up 32% compared to the same point last year, and the number of shooting victims has increased by 45%.

McSwain is parroting Trump’s recent ‘law and order’ campaign pitch, Jane Roh, a Krasner spokesperson said.

“Mass incarceration and death by incarceration have not made us safer,” she said in an email. “Throwing lives away in the name of politics has broken families and communities, further entrenching generational poverty to the point where quality of life indicators for Black people are now worse than prior generations.”

Tuggle, 28, was sentenced to 13-and-a-half to 27 years in prison, a light penalty, in McSwain’s view, after being convicted of fatally shooting a man during a carjacking in January 2017.

McSwain said Krasner’s office agreed to allow Tuggle to plead guilty to third-degree murder in return for details about his accomplice. He never provided the information, and the other suspect was never caught, McSwain said.

“In other words, Tuggle got a huge break for nothing,” he said.

Roh said a judge decided on Tuggle’s sentence and provided court transcripts showing that prosecutors from the DA’s Office asked for him to be sentenced to 25 to 50 years.

Tuggle is facing three federal counts, and McSwain said he could face life imprisonment if found guilty. He said Tuggle, without the new charges, could be eligible for parole in about 10 years.

In the other case, Kane, 53, was released “on a technicality” after police found a gun on him during a traffic stop, McSwain said. He was on probation after serving time for homicide, the second time he had killed someone in Philadelphia, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Armed murderers cannot be permitted to walk the streets of Philadelphia in the name of criminal justice reform,” McSwain said.

Kane was arrested and could face a maximum of 10 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

McSwain pointed to 10 cases that he described as examples of “shockingly lenient plea deals” where the defendant was later charged with murder.

Michael Banks, a suspect charged in the killing of 7-year-old Zamar Jones in West Philadelphia, received three to nine months in jail in February 2019 after carrying an unlicensed gun as a convicted felon, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In another instance, a man, Francisco Reyes, who had an extensive criminal record, pleaded guilty to drug offenses and was sentenced to probation. Two days after getting out of jail, he allegedly killed a 25-year-old man in Kensington, McSwain said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jerome Martin broke into a house and killed a 23-year-old man in Rhawnhurst while on house arrest after admitting to illegal possession of a firearm two months earlier.

“These policies create a culture of lawlessness,” McSwain said. “They leave criminals emboldened, and they have inevitable consequences.”