How much prison time should a convicted felon get for carrying a loaded, concealed weapon in Orange County?
The answer depends, of course, on the circumstances, the identity of the man and the mood of a sentencing judge.
At about 2 a.m. on March 17, 2012, Steven Paul Gulley could have saved himself a world of misery if he'd just decided not to carry in his pant's pocket a Kel-Tec .380 caliber pistol (with hollow tip bullets) as he emerged from a motel known as a hot spot for illegal activities.
A Cypress cop watched the then 38-year-old man and father of four kids riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, made a stop, conducted a search and found the weapon.
Gulley first tried to argue that the weapon was a "fake gun," but the officer was not a fool and the case got referred to federal agents, who filed charges inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.
In Gulley, prosecutors see a troublemaker. He's been arrested five times and convicted twice, according to his rap sheet. In the past, he's been associated with a criminal street gang and gone to prison for drug dealing and receiving stolen property. Three times authorities have arrested him for smuggling illegal aliens into the country.
Given that background, government agents wanted Gulley–a former restaurant owner, repairman and plumber–to get a 30-month prison trip "to impress upon him respect for the law."
After his client pleaded guilty, Gulley's taxpayer-funded defense lawyer argued that whatever the punishment a portion of the time should be spent in a drug rehabilitation center.
This month, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter decided that the government's stance was too harsh. He gave Gulley a two-year prison sentence.
Gulley, now 39, is presently in federal custody inside the Santa Ana Jail, where he's taken courses in "Attitudes for Success."
He'll be bused to prison in coming days.