Drug kingpin Kaboni Savage is unhappy at the Federal Detention Center

Kaboni Savage, a former boxer and convicted North Philadelphia drug kingpin. He asked a judge to "send me to Guantanamo, Cuba, the nearest death row unit, or back to Colorado," where he was serving time in a maximum-security prison. (Family Photo)
Kaboni Savage, a former boxer and convicted North Philadelphia drug kingpin. He asked a judge to "send me to Guantanamo, Cuba, the nearest death row unit, or back to Colorado," where he was serving time in a maximum-security prison. (Family Photo) (David Ralis)
Posted: March 28, 2011

Convicted drug kingpin Kaboni Savage is not happy with his accommodations at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, where he is awaiting trial on racketeering-murder charges that could carry a death sentence.

Even Guantanamo Bay, the notorious federal lockup for suspected terrorists, would be better than the FDC at Seventh and Arch Streets, Savage said in a handwritten memo filed with U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick last week.

In the memo, Savage, 36, complained about the conditions under which he is being held and the difficulty he has had meeting with his court-appointed attorneys.

"I refuse to speak to my appointed counsel under these conditions," Savage wrote.

He also asked the judge to "send me to Guantanamo, Cuba, the nearest death row unit, or back to Colorado," where he was serving time in a maximum-security prison.

Once described by a Philadelphia police official as "pure evil," Savage is being housed under special administrative measures (SAMs), a designation applied to high security risks.

For security reasons, the details of a SAMs confinement are not made public, but Savage has described his as a lockdown with limited access to other inmates and limited communication and visitation rights with anyone outside the prison.

Christian Hoey, one of Savage's lawyers, said his client was being held "under heavy-duty restrictions, and it's natural that he's upset over the conditions of his confinement."

Savage has filed several memos in the past year saying he is being denied his constitutional right to a fair trial and questioning the SAMs confinement.

Ironically, since he listed Guantanamo as a better alternative, he has also complained about being confined with "known terrorists."

In a memo filed last year he wrote that while in the federal prison in Florence, Colo., he had been in a restricted prison unit with convicted 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted of plotting the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

More recently, Savage said, he was housed with convicted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan.

"I'm still 'supposed to be' an American citizen," the onetime welterweight boxer wrote.

Prosecutors have opposed Savage's requests and have alleged that even under the strict terms of his confinement, he has continued to issue death threats to potential witnesses and those he suspects are "working" with law enforcement.

The latest legal flap came just days after federal prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty for Savage and two codefendants if they are convicted.

The trial is tentatively set for the fall but could be delayed if, as rumored, the charges against Savage are expanded and additional defendants are added to the case.

Savage was serving a 30-year sentence in Florence after his federal conviction in Philadelphia on drug-trafficking charges in 2005. He was brought back after being indicted in 2009 in a racketeering-murder case. The new indictment includes 12 murders and numerous allegations of witness intimidation.

At the time the charges were announced, a federal prosecutor described Savage as the leader of perhaps the most violent drug gang in the history of Philadelphia, and a police supervisor labeled Savage "pure evil."

The murders in the pending case include the firebombing of a home in North Philadelphia in October 2004 in which six people, two women, and four children ages 15 months to 15 years died.

The victims included the mother and infant son of Eugene Coleman, a Savage associate who had agreed to testify against him.

Savage was heard on a secretly recorded prison tape joking about the murders and belittling the victims.

Prosecutors are expected to play dozens of tapes at the trial, hoping to convict Savage with his own words.

In a motion filed in September, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, the lead prosecutor in the case, offered snippets of expletive-laden conversations in which, he alleged, Savage threatened to kill witnesses, their families, prison officials, and law enforcement authorities, including the FBI agent who had spearheaded the investigation.

Troyer has argued that Savage is trying to manipulate the legal process by continually complaining that he is not being granted his Sixth Amendment right to counsel because of the restrictions placed on him while in prison.

"He has consistently expressed his heartfelt desire to murder anyone he perceives as an enemy," Troyer wrote, "and there are at least 11 murder victims who serve as firm reminders that Savage's threats are anything but idle."


Contact staff writer George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.

 

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