There's nothing like cutting a deal for a lower sentence with the feds to make a guy like convicted drug trafficker Dawud Bey feel like he's a changed man.
After prison, Bey said, he plans to return to working with Point Breeze youth, giving them a firsthand account of how one's life goes astray if involved in crime.
In 2004 and 2005, Bey and notorious drug lord Kaboni Savage were recorded by the FBI making vile threats to kill federal witnesses, their babies and law-enforcement officers to prevent four drug associates from testifying against them in a multimillion-dollar drug-trafficking case in 2005.
Yesterday, Bey, 41, of South Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to tamper with witnesses before U.S. District Judge Norma Shapiro, in exchange for dropping four counts of witness tampering.
As part of his plea agreement, he is not cooperating with law enforcement and may face less than 10 years in prison.
Bey, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence in the 2005 case, could have faced 100 more years in prison if convicted at trial of all five counts.He now faces a maximum of 20 years in the federal pen, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
His attorney, Arnold Joseph, estimated that Bey's sentencing guidelines may be about four to six years in prison. Bey's sentencing is set for May 27.
Joseph said he and his client believe that Shapiro will be "fair" and consider that Bey was given an additional 42 months for making the same threats when he was sentenced in the 2005 case.
Before the judge entered the court, Bey dismissed the violent threats as "braggadocio," blaming them on being jailed at the Federal Detention Center for "23 and one" - 23 hours of lockdown and one hour for a shower and exercise.
But when he suggested to Shapiro that the murderous threats were just "exaggerations," the judge quizzed him about whether he wanted to plead guilty. He told her he was guilty of the conspiracy count.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer later said the evidence of the four counts of witness tampering was the same as the evidence in the conspiracy.
Troyer outlined the case against Bey, who admitted to a conspiracy with Savage in which they threatened to kill numerous witnesses to prevent their testimony at the 2005 trial.
Bey sent messages twice to Savage's former top drug aide, Eugene "Twin" Coleman, not to testify.
Ten months later, on Oct. 9, 2004, Coleman's mother, 15-month-old son, cousin and three other children were killed in a North Philadelphia house fire that allegedly had been set by two of Savage's pals.
Bey and Savage, who had adjoining cells at the federal prison, threatened inmates via the plumbing system, which carried their voices to other floors when toilets were flushed. Inmates called it talking "on the bowl."
In November 2004, the FBI installed an eavesdropping device near the toilet in Savage's cell to record threats by the pair and then played them at the 2005 trial.
Troyer said that Bey threatened:
* Witness Paul Daniels in late July or early August 2004, saying that he was "not exempt," nor was his family if he testified at the drug trial. Bey said he had to make only one phone call to make "magic happen."
During five days in December 2004, Bey and Savage discussed killing Daniels and his relatives. Bey told Savage that he warned Daniels in the prison visitors' room: "I'm telling you 'P,' snitching ain't cool . . . your ass is on the line, your life is on the line."
* A prison captain on Nov. 29, 2004, for denying Bey and Savage visits. Bey said, "I wanna f--- the captain up," to which Savage replied: "I wanna blow his head off."
* Craig Oliver and his family on three days in December 2004. Bey told Savage: "We gonna track 'em down and we gonna kill 'em."
* An unknown inmate. Bey warned him to prove that he was not cooperating with law enforcement. "When I get out, I'm gonna kill every f------ rat that I know, dog," Bey added.