BY SIMONE WECHSELBAUM OF THE DAILY NEWS In the age of Stop Snitchin’, Philadelphia’s embattled law-enforcement community has found that federal court is the path to justice by circumventing tight-lipped thugs and wary witnesses who jam the wheels of the criminal-justice system.The feds only need one of three things to build a case – a convicted felon caught with a gun or bullets; an individual apprehended with both a gun and a sizable amount of drugs; a person arrested for armed robbery in a store selling products made in another state and/or transported across state borders.
“When we have a felon caught with a gun, we prefer for him to go federal,” said Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson. “Nine out of 10 times, he will be going to jail. If he goes local, he might get probation, if that.” For gun offenses, the average federal sentence in the Philadelphia area is 9 1/2 years, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, which boasts a 95-percent conviction rate in these cases.
On the other hand, a gun criminal in the city court system most likely will face a maximum sentence of less than two years in the county jail, city prosecutors said. There’s an added bonus. Suspects facing stiffer federal sentences are more likely to dime out their cohorts to the U.S. attorney’s office than to the cops, police said.
Since 2001, the U.S. attorney’s office has helped solve more than 130 Philadelphia homicides because suspects in their custody cooperate and pass on crucial information. In that time, they have sent more than 1,600 area gun-related criminals to federal prisons.