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Jacksonville gang founder sentenced to 10 years on gun charge

Prosecutors: Maurice Mitchell paid witness to lie, tried to intimidate witness

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(Ferre' Dollar/CNN)

A 32-year-old Jacksonville man who founded a violent prison gang has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on a weapons charge, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Maurice Phillip Mitchell, who investigators said founded the "Cut Throat Committee" gang that operates in Florida prison system, was convicted Feb. 7 by a federal jury on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan sentenced Mitchell to 10 years.

According to court documents, Mitchell was operating a minivan in the Lackawanna area of Jacksonville on Feb. 29, 2016, when he was encountered by a patrol officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The officer saw signs of intoxication and pursued Mitchell, who led the officer on a high-speed chase and ultimately crashed the van into a tree.

Mitchell then got out of the van ran off, and a second JSO patrol officer, who had responded to assist, caught Mitchell a short time later, after finding him hiding under an SUV in a nearby parking lot.

When they returned to the scene of the crash, officers found a firearm on the dashboard of the minivan. As a previously convicted felon, Mitchell is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that Mitchell tried to obstruct justice by paying a third party to falsely testify on his behalf and by attempting to intimidate a witness during trial.

Mitchell received a sentencing enhancement based on that evidence, prosecutors said. He also received an additional sentencing enhancement for reckless endangerment during the police chase.