The District Attorney Who Doesn’t Take Gun Violence Seriously


Larry Krasner has done something that has shocked even the most progressive-minded journalists in this town.

The District Attorney’s Office pushed for a violent criminal to get a super-light sentence for wielding a semi-automatic AK-47 rifle and firing it. It nearly blew the leg off of Mike Poeng, an immigrant who ran the KCJ deli at 54th and Spruce.

It all started with Jovaun Patterson.   He saw Poeng washing his car outside his store and proceeded to commit a felony robbery.  After he had exposed the rifle, Poeng and Patterson engaged in a struggle, backing Poeng into the store with Poeng’s wife and children.   During the struggle, Patterson’s AK-47 discharged.

What the District Attorney also knew about Mr. Patterson is that he has a decade-long history of being a violent offender as an adult.  He had faced criminal attempted murder charges once before, only to see them dropped when a witness refused to appear in court.  He had convictions for drug dealing, a previous burglary, and multiple incidents where the Philadelphia Police Department stopped him on illegal gun charges, including other charges for terroristic threats and assault.   By anyone’s definition, Jovaun Patterson is violent.

The sentence?  3½-10 years, with parole possible at any time.

Even worse–the DA’s office dropped the gun charges for the AK-47. An AK-47.

Read that again: the DA’s office thinks it is OK if you shoot someone with an AK-47.

This sentence was only made possible by the District Attorney’s Office agreeing to drop attempted homicide charges against Patterson. Ben Waxman, DAO spokesman who also worked on Larry Krasner’s election campaign retorted to the Inquirer that dropping the attempted murder charge was “wholly appropriate as the video evidence depicted a struggle involving the gun prior to its discharge”.   LOLwut?

If Poeng had died, every prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania would have charged Patterson with Murder 2, except perhaps Larry Krasner.

To compound the wound even further, the DA’s Office made sure to go dark and uncommunicative as Patterson’s sentencing date approached.  It made no attempt to contact the Poeng family, a customary practice of any prosecutor’s office.   It ignored contact attempts by Mike Poeng to find anything out about the case.

That’s because the District Attorney did not want the victim to be aware of the crappy deal they were about to make with Jovaun.

Is the DA Making Sentencing Decisions Based on Race?

Another interesting comment has leapt out of the DA’s office that gives us a bit of insight into what the hell it is thinking when it comes to urban violence.  In another piece the Inquirer ran today highlighting Larry Krasner’s withdrawal from the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association he made a speech accusing rural Pennsylvanians of wanting fresh imports of minorities from Philadelphia to populate rural state correctional facilities, boosting their job centers…

…he believed some rural leaders were eager to accept — if not encourage — the imprisonment of city residents as a way to create jobs at prisons and help receive other types of government funding.

“We have a motivated bunch of rural counties — motivated — who want to have our Philadelphians, often black and brown Philadelphians, in their jails, because it gives them power, it gives them money,” Krasner said.

Did this warped logic come into play when Krasner decided to ignore egregious gun crime like the kind Jovaun Patterson committed?

Admittedly, we should not be surprised at this kind of response out of the DA’s office.   Krasner himself gave strong indications when he was running for office that he was going to go light on gun sentencing.

We just had no idea he was going to come virtually close as possible to no punishment at all.