A Philadelphia man was sentenced today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to serve 40 years in prison for his role in the retaliatory firebombing that killed six members of a federal witness’s family, including four children.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division made the announcement.
Lamont Lewis, 38, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in 2011 for his role in the firebombing of Eugene Coleman’s family home in retaliation for Coleman’s cooperation with law enforcement. Lewis also pleaded guilty to an additional five murders murder-for-hire, and drug trafficking charges, and agreed to testify against Kaboni Savage and his cousin, Robert Merritt, who assisted Lewis in carrying out the firebombing. U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania imposed the sentence after considering Lewis’s cooperation in the prosecution of Savage and others.
According to Lewis’s testimony at trial, at Savage’s direction, Lewis and Merritt firebombed the Coleman family home in retaliation for Coleman’s testimony against Savage. Lewis admitted that he spoke to Savage in the evening hours of Oct. 8, 2004, at which time Savage asked for a favor and told Lewis that his sister, Kidada Savage, would explain the plan after the phone call. Shortly thereafter, Kidada Savage advised Lewis of the plan to firebomb the Coleman residence, and drove Lewis to the location to identify the house. In the early morning hours of Oct. 9, 2004, Lewis contacted Merritt and explained the plan to him. Lewis and Merritt filled up two gas cans while en route to the Coleman residence. Then, while Lewis gained entry and fired warning shots into the residence, Merritt threw a gas can with a lit cloth fuse, and then a second gas can, into the occupied Philadelphia row house. Six people, including four children ranging in age from 15 months to 15 years, were killed in the fire.
Co-defendants Kaboni Savage,Kidada Savage, and Merritt were also convicted for their roles in the firebombing at the May 2013 trial. Kaboni Savage, who was also convicted of other crimes, was sentenced to death for 12 counts of murder in aid of racketeering. Kidada Savage and Robert Merritt were sentenced to life in prison.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and the Maple Shade, New Jersey Police Department. The United States Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals Service, and the Philadelphia / Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force also assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steve Mellin of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Troyer and John M. Gallagher of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.