Gang leader stuck with 40-year sentence

ALBANY, Ga.: A superior court judge has upheld a 40-year prison sentence for an Albany man who said that he misunderstood how many years he would have to serve in prison when he entered a guilty plea on gang-related charges.

Michael Williams was seeking to withdraw his plea or modify his sentence after he said that he believed he would only have to serve three years in state prison.

Williams pleaded guilty to perjury, subordination of perjury and two counts of street gang participation after a letter was found during a random search of his home reportedly directing gang members to lie to police if questioned about a gang-related fight.

Williams, who is on probation after pleading guilty to an aggravated assault charge, testified before Senior Judge Loring Gray Friday that he assumed after speaking with his attorney that his plea would come with a 10-year sentence with him only having to serve three in prison, but after Judge Denise Marshall accepted the plea, Gray issued a 40-year prison term on the charge.

Prosecutors contend that Williams is the leader of an Albany street gang and that he violated terms of his probation when he allegedly drove fellow gang members to an area hospital to continue a fight with rival gang members.

During a random search of Williams' home, Albany police detectives found the letter in which Williams is believed to have ordered others involved with the fight to lie to investigators about his involvement.

When the charges were initially levied against Williams, prosecutors offered Williams a plea agreement in which he would have to serve 10 years in prison -- a term defense attorney Willie Weaver asked Gray to consider before making his decision Friday.

Prosecutor Matt Breedon countered saying that Williams turned down the deal and that it was off the table when Williams agreed to make a guilty plea without a deal from the district attorney's office.

Gray had few words for Williams before making his decision, saying only that given the facts of the case, Williams' history before the court the likelihood to commit additional crimes and the fact that Williams signed at least one document stating that he was fully aware of possibilities of his plea, that he felt no need to change or modify the Williams' plea.