By Greg Peterson
News Director, Owner
Upper Peninsula Breaking News
(Marquette, MI) – It may be the costliest selfie ever taken in Michigan's Upper Peninsula – a place where selfies are common thanks to summer tourists visiting the beautiful wilderness and Lake Superior.
Convicted felon Montdesze Antonio Johnson, 31, took a “picture on his phone” holding a pistol – and that selfie has put him in federal prison.
Johnson got almost 6 years in prison but that's a lot better than the maximum sentence of 10 years.
In an effort to possibly elicit leniency from the judge, Johnson's defense attorney immediately tried to set the sympathy bar very low using the “P” card or maybe the “H” card.
Poverty stricken and “growing up around drugs” in the Detroit area, Johnson grew up “basically in the hood,” said Assistant U.S. Public Defender Elizabeth A. LaCosse. “He had a lot of issues growing up - he can be rehabilitated.”
The gun has not been found and “nobody saw him with the gun,” LaCosse said. The owner “showed off the gun to my client and Ms. Flaska” adding before it disappeared the gun was in a case and stored in a shed.
Johnson was was sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison for taking a selfie – the only problem is he was holding a pistol. If you have a felony record – like carjacking – you can't possess a gun – ever – not for any reason.
The selfie might not seem like that big of a deal, however prosecutors say Johnson has a long history of getting into trouble – like convictions on two counts of carjacking.
Johnson has “quite a record,” Judge Edgar said, adding the reason Johnson must be put in prison for public protection.
Johnson grew up around poverty and drugs, LaCosse said, adding he started abusing marijuana and alcohol at age 12.
The theft of cars and carjacking are not crimes that can easily be explained away, prosecutors said.
“It's not like he stole bags of potato chips or packs of gum – cars are a big deal in America,” said Asst. U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat. “This is a big deal.”
Before sentencing, Johnson apologized and said he had “no excuses.”
“I apologize to the court,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he'd “made better decisions” and described himself as “very impulsive.”
Last week (June 22, 2016) in Marquette, federal Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced Johnson to 70 months in federal prison and that equals five years and 10 months. After serving his federal prison sentence, Johnson will be under three years supervised release.
Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Johnson pleaded guilty to count one of the two-count indictment returned on Dec. 15. 2015 by a federal grand jury sitting in Marquette. The judge dismissed count two of the indictment possession of a stolen firearm.
Johnson admitted being a "felon in possession of a firearm." The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The gun at issue is the Canik Model TP9SA 9mm semiautomatic Luger pistol - described as a Polymer pistol.
The incident happened in Marquette Country between July 27 and Aug. 1, 2015 – and that's the rub – this case is about a selfie.
Johnson has been in trouble with the law on previous occasions:
Marquette District Court Judge Dennis H. Girard gave a 90-day jail sentence on June 29, 2015 to 30-year-old Montdesze Antonio Johnson of 2019 Longyear Ave in Marquette, MI on a state misdemeanor charge of larceny between $200-1,000 – and was given credit for 14 days serve and ordered to pay nearly $1,222 in costs/fines – that according to a news brief in the Mining Journal on Sept. 29, 2015 that listed June 2015 sentencings in district court.
Montdesze Antonio Johnson was booked into the Macomb County, MI jail near Detroit on April 18, 2006, according to MobileMugs.com – that analyzed Public Records from the Michigan Department of Corrections.
The felony information associated with this charge alleged that, on October 22, 2005, in Macomb County, MI, Defendant:
Johnson entered a guilty plea on March 1, 2006, and sentenced to 4 to 20 years in prison on April 18, 2006.
On Valentines Day 2006 a then 20-year-old Montdesze Antonio Johnson was arrested in Lansing, MI on numerous felonies including conspiracy to commit car jacking, car jacking, Third-degree fleeing from a police officer, and attempted car theft “receiving and concealing stolen property,” according to the website MugShotsOnline.com
Canik Model TP9SA 9mm semiautomatic pistol:
Ct 1: Felon in possession of a firearm
Ct. 2 Possession of a stolen firearm
Aug. 6-Aug. 28, 2015