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Federal jury convicts defendant on gun, drug charges in Southern District’s first post-COVID-19 trial

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, in the first post-pandemic jury trial held in the Southern District of Georgia, a previously convicted felon has been found guilty on gun and drug charges.

Michael Venetez McRae, 36, of Augusta, was found guilty after a two-day jury trial before U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall on charges of Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of Cocaine, said Acting David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The conviction exposes McRae to a possible statutory penalty of more than 10 years in prison, followed by a period of supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“During the precautionary partial shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, our office and our law enforcement partners continued to investigate and prosecute cases in the Southern District,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “As key health indicators have improved, we welcome the return of jury trials as a vital part of the judicial process.”

The first jury in the Southern District to meet since the March 2020 start of COVID-19 restrictions found McRae guilty on all counts of the September 2019 indictment in which he was charged. Jurors deliberated for less than 30 minutes to convict McRae, who acted as his own attorney during the trial.

Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies arrested McRae on Jan. 5, 2019, during a call for a domestic disturbance at an Augusta residence. Deputies found McRae in possession of a bag of powder cocaine and a bag of “crack” cocaine, along with a loaded magazine and a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol. As a previously convicted felon, McRae is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

McRae will be sentenced at a later date.

The case was investigated by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara M. Lyons and Jennifer A. Stanley, with assistance from Litigation Technologist Dean Athanasopoulos.

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