A handgun reported stolen from a politically connected Southeast Baltimore businessman is registered to a top Baltimore police commander, and police are investigating how the business owner came into possession of the weapon, The Baltimore Sun has learned.
On March 26, Nicolas Ramos, owner of Arcos Restaurant on South Broadway, called police to report that someone had rifled through his office and taken a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver from a storage case in a closet, according to a copy of the police report.
Two sources say that when police traced the serial number provided by Ramos, the gun came up registered as a personal weapon to Maj. Anthony Brown, a former Southeast District supervisor who now oversees the department's Special Operations Section, which includes the SWAT team.
The gun had not been reported missing or stolen from the officer, the sources said, and Ramos said he's had it for years.
A police spokesman confirmed that Brown was administratively suspended late Wednesday afternoon, pending the outcome of the investigation.
"We're going to have the state's attorney's office take a look at the case," said Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman.
Brown, a 28-year police veteran who previously led the Southwestern District patrol operations after his time in the Southeast District, was not in his office Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
It was not clear whether investigators had interviewed him about the missing gun.
Reached by phone, Ramos, 51, a member of the Governor's Commission on Hispanic Affairs, asked a reporter to call back in 30 minutes. When the reporter called back, Ramos twice hung up.
Attorney Gary Maslan, who said he represents Ramos in a separate matter, said, "I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation," but declined to comment further.
Ramos was a member of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's transition committee and was part of a host committee for a January fundraiser that helped the mayor raise more than $800,000.
Records show Ramos has contributed $4,000 to the campaign of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon in 2007 and $1,000 to Gov. Martin O'Malley in 2009.
Ramos called police about 10 p.m. Saturday and said that the gun had been taken sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. The thief appeared to have made his way through the first-floor offices, opening desk drawers and file cabinets in each room before entering a rear office and opening desk drawers and file cabinets before taking the gun from the closet.
Nothing else was taken, according to the incident report. Ramos told the responding officer that he did not know who might have taken the weapon.
In Maryland, a private citizen can sell a firearm to another citizen, but state regulations require that the transaction be conducted in a licensed firearms dealership or with state police. The dealer or law enforcement officer is supposed to review applications, collect a fee and forward paperwork to the state police licensing division to record the transaction.
State police spokesman Greg Shipley said generally, those who violate secondary-sale laws can face a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a fine not to exceed $10,000. Each violation of the secondary-transaction laws is a separate crime.
Shipley said state police were not involved in the investigation as of Wednesday.
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