For Immediate Release
Maryland Felon Sentenced to Statutory Maximum of Five Years in Federal Prison for Possession of a Firearm in a Baltimore School Zone
Defendant Admitted to Possessing a “Ghost Gun” and an Extended Magazine Loaded With Seven Rounds of 9mm Ammunition Within 500 Feet of the Belair-Edison Middle School
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett today sentenced Lawrence Russoe, age 37, of Baltimore, Maryland, to the statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).
“Schools should be sacred and free from fear. Felon or no felon, if you’re caught with a gun around a school, we’re seeking to prosecute you federally,” said United States Attorney Erek L. Barron.
According to Russoe’s guilty plea, on June 7, 2021, BPD Detectives received notice of a stolen gray Hyundai vehicle at a fast-food drive-thru in the 2800 block of Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore. Detectives attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver, later identified as Russoe, refused to stop. A BPD helicopter maintained surveillance of the vehicle as it fled at a high speed, driving recklessly.
As detailed in the plea, Russoe briefly stopped the car to let out a passenger, then continued driving until entering the 3500 block of Parklawn Avenue, where he abandoned the car while it was still in motion. Russoe had a satchel draped across his body as he got out of the car and ran away, with BPD officers in pursuit. Russoe was arrested a short time later. Detectives searched the gray Hyundi and located an extended magazine, loaded with seven rounds of 9mm ammunition, on the rear driver’s side floorboard. In the satchel that Russoe was carrying, law enforcement recovered a privately made firearm (PMF), commonly known as a “ghost gun,” specifically, a Polymer 80, 9mm semi-automatic pistol without a serial number, a scale, seven baggies of marijuana, one clear gelcap containing a mixture of cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, and a cell phone.
Russoe admitted that he had reasonable cause to believe he was within 1,000 feet of a school while he possessed the firearm, because he drove directly past the Belair-Edison Middle School and the firearm and ammunition were both found approximately 500 feet from the school.
As detailed in his plea agreement, Russo is currently serving a sentence of seven years for a conviction in Baltimore City Circuit Court for first degree assault and possession of a firearm with a felony conviction. Judge Bennett ordered that Russoe’s federal sentence will be served concurrent to his state sentence and that Russoe must forfeit the PMF, extended magazine, and seven rounds of 9mm ammunition.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Gordin, who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.