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For Immediate Release
May 9, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

FREDERICK MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO HANDGUN VIOLATIONS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Howard Lee Morgan, 30, of 212 South Carroll Street, Frederick, pled guilty to False Application to Purchase a Regulated Firearm and Attempted Illegal Possession of a Regulated Firearm, after opening statements were presented to a Howard County Circuit Court jury Wednesday.

Facts presented to the court revealed that a protective order was issued by the District Court for Frederick County against Morgan on January 5, 2001. In that order, the court found that his ex-girlfriend had been threatened with violence that placed her in fear of imminent bodily harm. The order was effective until July 5, 2001, and its existence prohibited him from possessing or applying for a handgun in Maryland.

On April 28, 2001, Morgan was arrested for violating the terms of this protective order, and had a trial date scheduled for July 18, 2001 on that charge. Nevertheless, on June 23, 2001, he attempted to purchase a handgun from a Baltimore County gun dealer at a Frederick County gun show. Morgan filled out a Maryland and Federal application to purchase the handgun, and lied on both forms when asked whether he was subject to a protective order. He then signed both applications, certifying under the penalties of perjury that all the information he provided was true and accurate.

A subsequent investigation by the Maryland State Police Firearms Registration Section revealed that Morgan was subject to a protective order and that he had charges pending for violating the order at the time he applied. They disapproved his application to purchase the handgun, and referred the case to the Maryland State Police Cease Fire Unit for further investigation.

The Honorable Raymond J. Kane, Jr. accepted Morgan's guilty plea and, at the request of Morgan, ordered a pre-sentence investigation be completed prior to his sentencing on August 23, 2002. While awaiting sentencing, Judge Kane granted the State's request to place Morgan on pre-sentence supervision, and to order that Morgan have no firearms in his possession at any time. Filing a false application to purchase a firearm carries a maximum penalty of three years incarceration and a $5,000 fine, and the maximum potential penalty for attempting to illegally possess a regulated firearm is five years incarceration and a $10,000 fine. The State is seeking incarceration, and did not limit itself to the amount of incarceration it will seek as a result of the plea.

"Clearly the system in place worked as it should in this case," Attorney General Curran said. "The false information supplied on the Maryland application was discovered by the Firearms Registration Section and a man with a history of threatening violence, was prevented from purchasing a gun. Such coordinated law enforcement actions will hopefully serve as a deterrent to those thinking of falsifying applications to purchase firearms in Maryland."

This case was investigated by the Cease Fire Unit of the Maryland State Police and was prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, Special Crimes Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, in connection with a partnership the two agencies have formed to further efforts to combat handgun violations statewide. Funding for Operation Crime Gun comes from a grant received from the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention.

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