US attorney charges AK-47 shooter, calls DA's plea deal too lenient

Steve Tawa
February 28, 2019 - 3:29 pm
Video surveillance captures Jovaun Patterson approaching Li "Mike" Poeng with an AK-47 at 54th and Spruce streets, May 8, 2018.

Philadelphia Police Department/YouTube

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UPDATED: 6 p.m.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal prosecutors are bringing charges against a man who already accepted a plea arrangement with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office for shooting and wounding a deli owner in West Philadelphia last year.

U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said he's concerned that District Attorney Larry Krasner's policies are too lenient toward violent criminals, and they are directly connected to a rise in violence in Philadelphia. 

McSwain said his federal prosecutors will charge 30-year-old Jovaun Patterson with attempted robbery and a firearms charge in connection with a May 2018 attempted robbery and shooting at 54th and Spruce streets. 

The altercation with victim Li "Mike" Poeng, who struggled with Patterson, was all captured on camera. He was shot by Patterson with an AK-47 rifle

Poeng, who attended the briefing with the U.S. attorney, was confined to a wheelchair. 

In a plea arrangement, the District Attorney's Office dropped the attempted murder charge, and McSwain said Krasner's staff offered a lenient deal of three-and-a-half to 10 years.

"The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office isn't putting fear into the hearts of anybody who is contemplating a life of violent crime," said McSwain. "Instead, what's even worse, is that the office is putting fear into the hearts of law-abiding citizens."

Although rare, McSwain said a federal prosecution of Patterson after he was sentenced in state court does not amount to double jeopardy.

"There's not double jeopardy considerations for someone to plead guilty and be sentenced on a local case, and then for the federal authorities to get involved," he added.

McSwain said Poeng "deserves justice," and the "new" District Attorney's Office was not able to provide him with that. 

At the time, the District Attorney's Office defended the withdraw of the attempted murder charge, claiming it was "wholly appropriate," according to a DA spokesman, as the video evidence depicted a struggle involving the gun prior to its discharge.

As far as McSwain is concerned, he said, "Is that supposed to mean that because Mike Poeng decided to fight for his life and protect his wife and children, the person who shot him, somehow, deserves a break?"