Jury in March 2020 took less than 15 minutes to reach guilty verdict.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (CW69 News At 10) – A Georgia man who claimed his status as a “sovereign citizen” made him exempt from obeying the law will spend the next nine years in federal prison for illegally carrying a gun.

According to the FBI, “sovereign citizens” are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.

Michael Levant Williams, 36, of Savannah, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to 110 months in federal prison for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Williams was found guilty in March after a two-day trial when the jury took just 15 minutes to reach a verdict. After completion of his prison sentence, Williams also must serve three years on supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal system.

Williams, who had a previous federal felony conviction for Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, was arrested by Savannah Police officers November 22, 2018, for a traffic violation. Officers recovered a firearm during a subsequent search of his vehicle. As a convicted felon, Williams is prohibited from possessing weapons.

After his arrest, and during subsequent legal proceedings, Williams acted as his own attorney and claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” who was immune from the law. His case represents the second time this year in the Southern District in which a defendant has asserted the claim that “sovereign citizen” status shielded him from prosecution. In that unrelated case, an Augusta man was sentenced in January in U.S. District Court to 25 years in prison for fraudulent legal filings that targeted federal officials.

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