Convicted felon sentenced to additional prison time after threatening witness and judge

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BRUNSWICK, GA:  A convicted felon and gang member has been sentenced to more than a decade of additional time in federal prison after admitting he threatened a witness and a judge.

Wilbert Stephens, 29, of Brunswick, Ga., was sentenced to 174 months in prison after pleading guilty to Solicitation to Commit a Crime of Violence, and Mailing Threatening Communications, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Stephens to pay $7,500 in restitution to one of the victims, and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term, which runs consecutively to the 120-month term Stephens already was serving for a prior conviction. There is no parole in the federal system.

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“Serial criminal Wilbert Stephens already faced 10 years in prison for illegally possessing ammunition,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Rather than take his well-deserved medicine, he chose to compound the crime by threatening those who held him accountable.”

As described in court documents and testimony, Stephens was indicted in U.S. District Court in 2018 along with 23 other defendants as part of a drug trafficking conspiracy. He later pled guilty to an Information charging him with Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon and was sentenced in June 2020 to 10 years in prison. While being held in the Glynn County Detention Center awaiting transfer to prison, Stephens asked a relative to kill a witness, and wrote and mailed a threatening letter to a judge.  

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“Stephens tried to use fear and intimidation to avoid being brought to justice. For this he will face steeper consequences,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This sentence sends the message that the FBI will not permit cooperating witnesses and judges to be targeted like this, in an attempt to undermine the rule of law.”

The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcela C. Mateo.

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