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Edgewood man sleeping on Bel Air sidewalk had ‘ghost gun,' drugs, police say

Police said they found a loaded “ghost gun” with a high-capacity magazine attached, as well as cash and drugs, on an Edgewood man sleeping on a sidewalk in a Bel Air apartment complex Tuesday.

John Paul Laponzina, 20, of the 400 block of Kennard Avenue, is charged with use of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, drug distribution with a firearm, drug possession with intent to distribute, possession of an assault weapon magazine, drug possession other than marijuana and possession of a firearm as a minor.

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Bel Air Police were called around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to the 800 block of Old English Court, in the Harford Village South Apartments, to check on someone who appeared to be unconscious, according to charging documents.

Officers said it appeared the man was sleeping. When checking his backpack trying to find identification, police found a loaded 9 mm pistol with a high capacity magazine containing 31 rounds attached to it, according to charging documents.

Police believe the pistol was a self-assembled firearm, referred to as a “ghost gun,” because it did not have a serial number.

So-called ghost guns are often used by people who are legally prohibited from owning firearms and are untraceable by law enforcement, according to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Laponzina cannot legally possess a handgun in Maryland because he is under the age of 21. He is also on probation for a prior handgun violation in Baltimore City.

In February, he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm as a minor and was put on three years of probation. Other charges against him were dropped.

Police also found $235 in cash, two clear sandwich bags with Xanax pills and marijuana, a grinder and a scale inside, according to charging documents.

Laponzina woke up, was arrested and taken to Harford County Detention Center, where he was being held Thursday without bail.

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