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Man pleads guilty to weapons charge

Posted: February 22, 2012 - 1:01am

A Juneau man pleaded guilty to a felony weapons misconduct charge and to violating conditions of probation on Tuesday.

Michael A. Frank, 52, entered his pleas in Juneau Superior Court and is scheduled for sentencing in April.

In a plea deal reached with prosecutors, Frank admitted to weapons misconduct in the third degree after local police seized a Ruger .22 handgun, a Ruger Mini-14 and a 17 mm hunting rifle, plus ammunition and magazines, from his residence in the fall of last year, according to court documents.

Court records show he had previously been convicted in 2009 of a felony charge, third-degree criminal mischief, which means under state statute he is not allowed to reside in a dwelling knowing that there was a firearm there that is capable of being concealed on a person after having been convicted of a felony.

“It’s a relative of the felon-in-possession law,” Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams said in an interview.

Frank was indicted by a grand jury on the “relative” charge in early December, according to the indictment. It’s a class ‘C’ felony that can carry up to five years in a prison and a $50,000 fine. It has a presumptive sentencing range of two to four years if it’s a second felony conviction, which was the case for Frank.

The plea deal arranged between the parties calls for Frank to serve two years on the weapons charge, as well as six months from a previously suspended sentence imposed in 2009. In the 2009 case, he was sentenced to 24 months with all 24 months suspended. The plea deals calls for him to serve six of those 24 months, and dismisses the other 18. No probation was offered in the deal.

Williams says the weapons charge arose when two eyewitnesses allegedly saw Frank handling a firearm at the Hank Harmon Rifle Range in Juneau in September. Williams told the judge the witnesses reported it to the Juneau Police Department, who then obtained a search warrant for Frank’s residence on Stephen Richards Drive.

Frank’s attorney Kevin Higgins noted in an earlier hearing that Frank denies holding a gun at the range, adding that he was never charged with that having held the gun.

Higgins described the weapons charge a “status offense.”

“When you consider the nature of the offense, it’s not a particularly dangerous offense,” Higgins said, according to court recordings. “It’s an offense based on his classification as a felon. It’s not alleged that he was possessing the firearm because that would be charged under a different subsection. It’s not alleged that he in any way used the firearm or tried to intimidate another person with it.”

Judge Louis Menendez noted in an earlier bail hearing that Frank has an “extensive” criminal history and that he was concerned about Frank’s “aberrant or bizarre” behavior. In the 2009 case, it is alleged he kicked out the back window of a police vehicle as he was being transported after he was arrested for driving under the influence, Williams said in the bail hearing.

She said he was also spitting and kicking at the Alaska State Troopers and urinated on himself rather than giving a urine sample. In another case, he had to be tased when he became aggressive, Williams said.

Williams added in that hearing that his criminal history dates back to 1981, and that he has been convicted of about five class ‘A’ misdemeanors, including misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree in a 2006 case.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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