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

A jury convicted the Rock Island native for the crime last year.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — A Rock Island native convicted of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in May 2022 has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the crime, according to a release from the U.S. State's Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois.

Anthony Gay is also known to be an advocate against solitary confinement. 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.

His latest conviction 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. 

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, 2020, 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.

During his trial, the prosecution established that Gay had an "extensive number of prior felony convictions," including robbery, aggravated battery and possession of a weapon in prison. 

During sentencing, U.S. District Judge James Shadid reviewed the evidence that Gay's prior robbery conviction had involved him and several other gang members beating a 15-year-old boy who had been riding his bicycle. That happened just one day after Gay was released from prison. 

Because of that incident and others during Gay's prison sentence, the judge said the seven-year sentence was "necessary to protect the public."

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