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Athens man pleades guilty to fedetral gun charge, possession of 'shanks' while awaiting trial

By Joe Johnson

An Athens man with a lengthy and violent criminal recently entered guilty pleas in two separate federal cases, admitting that he hid homemade knives while in prison on a federal firearms charge

Michael Anthony Randall, 32, of Towne View Place, pleaded guilty to one count each of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of contraband while in jail, Melissa Hodges, spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Peter Leary in the federal Middle District, said on Tuesday.

Randall faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison without parole when sentenced on July 9.

"In fairly quick succession, including shortly before a federal hearing for his second offense for illegally possessing a firearm, Michael Randall was caught with a weapon, putting himself and others in danger," Leary said in a prepared statement. "This case illustrates the unceasing effort put forth by law enforcement to keep inmates and the community as a safe as possible from repeat and dangerous offenders." "Michael Randall is the definition of a repeat offender," said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. "The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to keep dangerous criminals like Randall off Georgia streets." According to court documents, Randall was arrested in Athens in January 2021 for illegally possessing a .380 caliber pistol. He was not supposed to possess weapons because he had multiple prior state felony convictions in North Carolina and Georgia, including assault with serious bodily injury and drugs, according to Hodges. Randall was also previously convicted in the Middle District of Georgia for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

He was subsequently indicted in U.S. District Court for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on Oct. 11, 2022. Hodges said, and on Nov. 8, 2022, while in custody awaiting his initial appearance in federal court, Butts County Jail officers found Randall in possession of a “shank,” or a handmade knife. Officers found another shank on Randall on Nov. 10, prior to his court appearance, and with yet another shank on Dec. 16, inside the Butts County Jail. The case was investigated by FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Butts County Sheriff's Department.

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