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

An Albany resident with a prior felony conviction found in illegal possession of a stolen loaded semi-automatic weapon during a car wreck investigation has pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge in a Project Safe Neighborhoods case.

MACON — A convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history was sentenced to serve more than six years in prison for illegally possessing a firearm after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers caught him trespassing on private property with a loaded gun near a national refuge.

Brandon Lee Hall, 33, of Macon, was sentenced to serve 82 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell after Hall previously pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Repeat, violent felons caught illegally possessing a firearm will face serious consequences, including the possibility of lengthy prison sentences,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a news release. “It is illegal for a convicted felon to have a firearm. I want to thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bibb County Sheriff’s officers for responding quickly to citizen complaints and working to keep the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge a safe place for all to visit.”

“National Wildlife Refuges are places for people and communities to connect with America’s wildlife,” Cynthia Martinez, chief USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System, said. “Providing for the safety of our visitors and staff is our highest priority, and we are grateful for the support and professionalism of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Attorney’s Office for helping us keep our National Wildlife Refuge and the public safe.”

“It is good that this repeat offender will be off the streets for several years to come. This sends a clear message that convicted felons with guns can face long jail time,” Bibb County Sheriff David J. Davis said. “The fact that this case was adjudicated both on the state level and the federal level shows the commitment by everyone in the criminal justice system to make sure offenses involving firearms are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

According to court documents and evidence, a federal wildlife officer patrolling the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Macon on June 14, 2019, received complaints from landowners about a man riding on a golf cart and fishing on their property without permission. Trail photos pulled by the officer and sent by a complainant showed Hall. A posted sign states that no ATVs, UTVs, golf carts of other off-road vehicles are allowed.

While the officer was meeting with a complainant, they spotted Hall driving the golf cart. The officer stopped him and explained that he had stopped him due to him driving the golf cart on the wildlife refuge and people’s property without permission. The officer noticed Hall had an empty pistol holster clipped to his belt. Hall said he was on probation and was a convicted felon. The officer discovered Hall had an active warrant for a parole violation out of Atlanta, and he was detained. Bibb County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and found 9mm rounds on Hall. Thirty feet away, the officers found Hall’s 9mm, semi-automatic pistol. Hall admitted the weapon was his.

Hall has prior convictions for aggravated assault, terroristic threats or acts and obstruction of an officer in Houston County Superior Court. It is illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Keyes prosecuted the case for the government.

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