A former Farrell man sentenced last month to a prison term for a federal firearm offense has appealed his sentence to the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia.

Gerald L. Williams Jr., 43, pleaded guilty in January to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Maurice B. Cohill, Pittsburgh, to 4 years, 9 months in prison, a term at the lowest end of sentencing guidelines.

Williams was arrested March 20, 2008, by Sharon police in the 400 block of Malleable Street, where residents had seen him carrying a gun.

When police confronted him, Williams dropped the loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol. He is not allowed to possess a firearm because of New York convictions on robbery and drug charges.

Williams believes a gang member dropped the gun after police were called to an earlier incident, and he found it in an alleyway, said his attorney, Assistant Public Defender W. Penn Hackney, in arguing for a sentence of 3 to 4 years.

Hackney said that Williams picking up the gun was not part of a criminal plan, pattern or lifestyle, and that Williams is not likely to commit other crimes

Williams’ criminal history is “problematic,” but is mostly small-time drug offenses, Hackney said. He also argued that Williams has been relatively clean since 2000, and has maintained employment for long stretches of time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy L. Johnston disagreed, noting that in 2006 Williams fought with police arresting him on a warrant, and had marijuana in his wallet.

Williams has a “serious and dangerous criminal history,” Ms. Johnston said, adding that “His entire adult life is characterized by crimes of violence, drug trafficking and a disregard for law enforcement.”

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