Violent Crips Gangmember Nets 20 Years for Gun PossessionPosted: 08/29/2017
District Attorney General Charme P. Allen’s Career Gang Unit has sent a violent member of the Rollin’ 20’s Crips street gang to prison for 20 years following his conviction of being a felon in possession of a handgun. Antonio Dewayne Sivels, 31, pled guilty today before Criminal Court Judge Bob R. McGee. The investigation leading to Sivels’ arrest and conviction commenced following an anonymously submitted video showing Sivels brandishing two handguns in a threatening manner.
The enhanced sentence of 20 years is based upon the nature of Sivels’ criminal history, his admitted status as a Crips gangmember, and prosecutors’ use of two recent amendments to Tennessee law. Normally, a felon who is convicted of possessing a handgun would be sentenced to one to two years. But because Sivels has been previously convicted of a crime of violence, attempted second degree murder, his sentencing range increased to eight to twelve years based upon a statutory amendment that took effect July 1, 2017. Prosecutors then used a 2016 amendment to Tennessee’s gang enhancement statute to bump Sivels’ sentencing range to fifteen to twenty-five years.
“Our Career Gang Unit exists so that we can stop gang violence using every innovative legal tool at our disposal,” says Allen. “These crucial sentencing enhancements ensured that this dangerous defendant will remain behind bars and not on our streets.”
Sivels’ first felony conviction occurred in 2015 following an incident where he chased a man from an apartment on Bell Street and shot the fleeing man twice. Sivels was convicted of attempted second degree murder for that incident of April 16, 2015.
Sivels was on probation for his attempted second degree murder conviction when the video surfaced of him brandishing two handguns in Austin Homes Public Housing Complex. On August 9, 2017, officers with the Tennessee Department of Correction searched Sivels’ apartment and located a fully loaded 9 mm handgun under the living room couch and two boxes of .380 ammunition in a bedroom closet. Sivels admitted to Officer John Mays of the Knoxville Police Department that the 9 mm weapon found in his apartment was one of the weapons shown in the video, which he stated was taken three or four days earlier. Sivels stated that he had given away the other weapon shown in the video.
Sivels’ conviction highlights the importance of community participation and cooperation with the law enforcement process. “This prosecution would not have been possible without the citizens in Austin Homes working together with law enforcement officials,” Allen noted. “This case demonstrates that we can work together to keep gun violence out of our neighborhoods.”