0

Gang leader faces 110 years

ALBANY -- Pleading guilty to nine criminal counts, including three of violent street gang terrorism, could land gangleader Michael Williams in prison for 110 years, a judge says.

Williams, 22, leader of the Westside Rattlers, pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the street gang terrorism and prevention act, two counts of perjury, three counts of suborning perjury and attempting to interfere with evidence at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The plea was accepted by Dougherty Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall, who said that sentencing could be scheduled in a week or two.

Earlier Wednesday another Westside Rattler, Albert Whitfield, caught a sentencing break.

"Albert Whitfield gave us a lot of information on Williams," said Matthew Breedon, assistant district attorney. "Whitfield pleaded guilty to perjury and gang participation. This morning, Whitfield was sentenced to 25 years probation, the first seven years to be spent in prison, suspended."

The latest charges against Williams stemmed from a probation violation, Breedon said. Williams was on 10 years probation and under rules to not associate with a long list of his fellow gang members, Breedon added.

On July 12, 2008, Williams and his gang had a fight with another group at a house called "the Dog House" near Albany State University, Breedon said.

Williams drove injured members of his gang to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, where the fight continued, Breedon said.

The fight and association with gang members put Williams in violation of his probation, Breedon said. A probation revocation hearing was held on Sept. 29, 2008.

While in the Dougherty County Jail waiting for the probation revocation hearing, Williams wrote a letter to Whitfield, Breedon said.

"In the letter, he (Williams) asked Whitfield to lie for him and say that Dexter Carter (a gang member) wasn't with him," Breedon said. "The letter was obtained by a search warrant."

In the letter, Breedon said, Williams also asked Whitfield to hide his gun. Possibly because the gun was not found, possession of a gun by a felon was dropped as part of the plea agreement, Breedon added.

"It would have added only five years to the sentence," Breedon said. "Considering he could get 110 years, I didn't think it mattered."