Gang leader gets 40 years

ALBANY -- Despite his assertion that he has become a different, "caring person," Dougherty Superior Court Judge Loring Gray sentenced Westside Rattlers gang leader Michael Jerome Williams to 40 years in prison Wednesday, the maximum sentence.

The sentence includes concurrent 10-year incarcerations for perjury. After they run out, Gray added two concurrent 15-year sentences for street gang terrorism. Another 15-year sentence for street gang terrorism was to be served consecutive to that 15 years.

"Although he was tried as a recidivist, he was not tried as a recidivist without the chance of parole," said Williams' attorney, Ingrid Driskell of Albany. "He could get out before 12 years."

Matt Breeden, an assistant district attorney for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit, tied Williams was to aggravated assaults and other violent crimes committed either at his direction or with his knowledge.

"He had five years of second chances and he hasn't taken one of

them," Breeden said. "He said he wasn't a terrorist, but gangs equal terrorists in our community. There is no difference."

Williams was placed on probation for an aggravated assault in May of 2008, Breedon said. He was ordered to stay away from his gang. Instead he participated in a gang fight and associated with his gang, Breedon added.

According to Breedon, Williams was trying to maneuver his way out of his probation violation when he committed perjury and subornation of perjury.

With the investigation of those charges, investigators accumulated the evidence of Williams' violation of the street gang and terrorism acts, Breedon said.

Breedon explained the physical evidence seized by investigator Jason Armstrong. One piece was a letter in which Williams told fellow gang members to lie for him at his probation violation hearing.

Other written evidence also pointed to Williams having a gang member hide his gun, as well as his writing out a list of gang members and their relative standing in the gang with himself positioned at the top.

The case Breedon made for a stiff sentence included accusing Williams of responsibility for much of the gang's violent crimes by ordering the crimes or at least knowing about them.

"I am pleased with the sentencing," Breedon said. "I think this sends a message to the gangs and their leaders. We are going to get them."