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Rock Island man who advocated against solitary confinement convicted for possessing firearm as felon

A federal jury convicted Anthony Gay of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon. He will be sentenced in September.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Editor's note: The video above is from March 19, 2021. 

Rock Island native and advocate Anthony Gay has been convicted of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon, the U.S. States Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois announced Thursday. 

Gay, who spent 20 years in solitary confinement, has been a strong advocate against the practice. News 8 reported in March 2021 that his time in prison began in 1994 after he stole a dollar bill and a hat and got in a fight. 

He said he violated his probation and landed back in jail before a fight with another inmate sent him to solitary confinement. He ended up spending 22 years behind bars, most in solitary confinement.

The conviction he now faces stems from an incident on May 31, 2020. The DOJ's press release says Gay was a passenger in a car that was stopped by Rock Island police for a traffic violation. 

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Gay fled the traffic stop but fell down as police chased him. He was arrested "a short distance away," according to the DOJ. 

When officers retraced Gay's path, they discovered a loaded Glock model 36 .45 pistol on the ground where he fell. The gun had been reported stolen in March 2020. 

About two weeks later on June 14, police were called to a Rock Island hotel where Gay had been renting a room while he was arrested for the gun charge. Motel staff had found a bag of .45 ammunition, the same type of rounds that had been found in the loaded Glock. 

RELATED: Rock Island man fights to end solitary confinement in Illinois prisons

Gay is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, according to the DOJ. At sentencing, he faces statutory penalties on each count of up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and up to a three-year term of supervised release.

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