Gang member pleads guilty to threatening federal judge

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) (Andrew Harnik, Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A Brunswick man already sentenced to 10 years behind bars now faces more time in federal prison after threatening a witness and federal judge, the Department of Justice announced Friday.

Wilbert Stephens, 29, was sentenced last June to 10 years in prison after he was convicted to possession of a firearm by a felon as part of a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving 23 other defendants, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Georgia’s Southern District said.

Then while in custody at the Glynn County Detention Center, Stephens mailed a letter that contained threats to a federal judge and also reached out to a fellow member of the Gangster Disciples gang to inflict payback against a witness, according to federal prosecutors.

After pleading guilty to charges of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and mailing threatening communications, Stephens now faces up to 20 more years in federal prison, plus three years’ supervised release, among other penalties.

Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes said, Stephens “sought to retaliate against those who held him accountable.”

“He’ll now learn that his actions will keep him behind bars for a very long time -- and our community will be safer as a result,” Estes said.

Stephens remains in custody while awaiting sentencing in the case.