Lawyer for store owner says gun charge will be dropped

Federal authorities probing unsubstantiated terror tip had temporarily closed shop

Baltimore & Region


Baltimore prosecutors will dismiss a handgun charge against the owner of a convenience store who was swept up last month in a terror probe, the man's attorney said yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the city state's attorney confirmed that prosecutors plan to drop the charge against Maged M. Hussein at a hearing tomorrow.

"I was innocent from the beginning. Everybody knows that," said Hussein, a 41-year-old U.S. citizen from Egypt who owns Koko Market in Southeast Baltimore. "I'm glad somebody else is not making a mistake again."

Federal authorities walked into his store Oct. 18 and ordered it temporarily closed. They were investigating a tip, never substantiated, that at least six local Egyptian men were plotting to detonate a truck full of explosives in one of the tunnels that carry traffic under the Baltimore Harbor. Hussein said he was never accused of being a part of any plot, but was questioned about some of his customers.

Hussein was arrested on a weapons charge that accused him of violating a protective order filed the previous month by his wife. However, a box on the decree that would have required Hussein to immediately surrender all firearms to a law enforcement agency is not checked.

Prosecutors charged Hussein under the state public safety article, which prohibits anyone named in a protective order from possessing firearms.

"It was not a threat to anybody," said Karl Goodman, Hussein's lawyer. "It was locked up, unloaded in a safe. He voluntarily told the police where it was."

Margaret T. Burns, spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office, said that during an investigation, prosecutors learned other factors that led them to doubt their ability to convict Hussein. Those factors included his cooperation with authorities during the terror investigation and that he told them about the gun, she said. She said their case would have been hindered by the fact that the protective order did not prohibit him from owning a firearm.

"In fairness, in terms of justice, we looked at all of that and we said that we would bring the case forward to dismiss it," Burns said.

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