MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Madison man who spent six years in prison for a sexual assault he didn’t commit was sent back to prison this week, this time after being convicted of a gun-possession charge that he said evolved from the trauma of his wrongful sentence.
Forest S. Shomberg, 47, was sentenced Thursday to one year in federal prison after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faced up to 6 1/2 years but the judge said she granted lenience because of his previous wrongful conviction.
Shomberg had been accused of violently groping a Madison college student in 2002 even though friends said he was several blocks away at the time. Despite his repeated insistence that he was innocent, he was convicted of second-degree sexual assault and sentenced to 12 years.
The Wisconsin Innocence Project helped win his exoneration in 2009. Attorneys relied on new DNA evidence recovered from the victim’s pantyhose that didn’t match Shomberg’s.
Despite the overturned conviction, Shomberg had other felony convictions that barred him from possessing a gun, his federal defender, Mike Lieberman said.
Shomberg was charged anew in federal court in May for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Authorities said he took a gun from a friend and fired a shot into the ground, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report.
In a letter to the judge, Shomberg wrote that he was despondent over personal issues and the pain and loss he felt after spending six years in prison. He said he had intended to use the gun to kill himself.
Lieberman said Shomberg was very drunk at the time. He also said Shomberg has long struggled with drug and alcohol issues, and asked the judge for a sentence that required less incarceration and more frequent contact with probation agents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman said Shomberg only seems to stay out of trouble when he is behind bars. She asked for a sentence within the guideline range.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb agreed to allow Shomberg to spend part of his sentence in a halfway house, where he could attend counseling appointments or work.
“It is fortunately a fairly rare situation when someone comes into here after having been incarcerated without reason,” Crabb said. “I think we all are concerned about that unfair imprisonment. But we’re also concerned about your seeming inability to control your alcohol and drug use.”
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj