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A 57-year-old Tennessee man said he was an innocent man who had been railroaded before a federal judge in Lincoln gave him seven years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm Friday.

"To sentence me to effectively a life sentence for exercising the Second Amendment? Come on, Nebraska, you can do a lot better than that," Michael Wayne Parsons said.

He claimed someone planted the AR-15 rifle found on his single-engine plane after he landed in Arapahoe on Jan. 14, 2017, and was arrested on a warrant out of Tennessee for failing to appear there for trial.

Parsons also contended the Tennessee case that made him a felon was a "false conviction."

But at a trial in August, a Nebraska jury found him guilty, rejecting Parsons' explanations.

During the two-hour sentencing hearing Friday, Parsons, described by the government as a sovereign citizen, objected to each step of the proceeding.

"The fact is that I have immunity," said the man from Arlington, Tennessee.

Parsons said he's an ambassador and associate chief justice of the Chilcotin Nation and not subject to U.S. laws. He said he has been held captive for two years, though he didn't hurt anyone.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Sharp said, setting aside Parsons' "odd set of beliefs," there are some factors in the case that are really troubling.

"He is obviously enamored with guns," Sharp said, adding that he suspects any time Parsons is not in jail he is going to have a gun.

The judge said that in recorded jail phone calls it was clear Parsons was trying to get rid of the plane and continues to maintain he didn't knowingly possess the rifle.

"If he truly believed he was an ambassador, he would've proudly claimed that gun as his own, saying it's OK for him to possess it," Sharp said.

At the end, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard sentenced Parsons to seven years in prison (consecutive to three years he got on a Tennessee conviction), plus three years of supervised release.

"Despite your protestations, a jury of your peers found that you had in your possession an AR-15 assault-style rifle and enough ammunition to arm that automatic weapon as well as six other automatic weapons," the judge said.

He said there's no question that Parsons is an educated man who believes in his own principles.

“But that education and your law-abiding ways went south somewhere along the path,” Gerrard told him. "As a result, you've been convicted of more than one felony and the public needs protection from your behavior for a significant period of time."

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Reporter

Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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