Fitzgerald man handed federal court sentence, two found illegally in southwest Georgia

An Oconee County resident and former eighth-grade teacher has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

COLUMBUS – Two convicted felons with lengthy criminal histories, one of whom is a validated gang member, pleaded guilty in separate illegal possession of firearms cases, acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Peter D. Leary said.

Jermichael Bellamy, 28, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon before U.S. District Judge Clay Land. Maurice Toney, 47, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Both defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Repeat violent criminals and gang members who disregard federal law by illegally possessing firearms will face federal prosecution,” Leary said in a news release. “Our office is working closely with our law enforcement partners to apprehend the most egregious offenders creating havoc in the Columbus community and bring them to justice.”

“Gang members like Bellamy continue to plague our communities even after being charged and convicted of serious crimes,” Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta Chris Hacker said. “That’s why federal law provides for serious prison time for criminals who refuse to learn from their mistakes and continue to possess firearms and endanger others. And that’s why we continue to work with our state and local partners to make sure these criminals get the stiffest sentences.”

“I am pleased to see the successful prosecution of these violent repeat offenders,” Columbus Police Department Chief Freddie Blackmon said. “As we continue to work with our federal partners, I look forward to seeing these types of cases even more.”

According to court documents, Bellamy was arrested on outstanding warrants on Oct. 15, 2020. Inside Bellamy’s vehicle, law enforcement located a loaded pistol and four loaded magazines, as well as cocaine and a digital scale. Investigators also found poster boards with “ABG,” “852” and gorilla images drawn on them. Bellamy was also wearing a “852” necklace and an “852” tattoo.

Bellamy is a member of the local hybrid Alleyboy Gang and 852. Bellamy is also a validated member of the Gangster Disciples. Bellamy has prior convictions of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, gang act violation and aggravated assault in the Superior Court of Muscogee County.

Toney was under investigation by ATF in August and September 2020 for trafficking firearms and methamphetamine in the Columbus area. In a recorded controlled buy operation, Toney sold methamphetamine and three firearms to a confidential informant. The firearms were a 20-guage pump-action shotgun, a .38SPL revolver and a semi-automatic rifle with one magazine and 15 rounds of ammunition. Toney was previously convicted of multiple felonies in the Superior Court of Muscogee County and the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, including two separate convictions of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The Bellamy case was investigated by FBI and the Columbus Police Department. The Toney case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Williams is prosecuting both cases.

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