Attorney General Grewal Announces Arrest of New Jersey Man for Illegally Trafficking Untraceable “Ghost Guns” in Paterson Area – Ghost guns and assault rifles seized by Division of Criminal Justice & Paterson Police Department

For Immediate Release: November 20, 2020

Office of The Attorney General
– Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General
Division on Criminal Justice
– Veronica Allende, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Peter Aseltine
Citizen Inquiries-

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced the arrest of a man who illegally trafficked untraceable firearms known as “ghost guns” in the area of Paterson, N.J.  Ghost guns, which are outlawed in New Jersey, are assembled from kits that can be purchased online.

Michael Maresca, 32, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., was arrested yesterday, November 19, outside his residence as the result of an investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice and Paterson Police Department.  The two lead agencies subsequently executed a search warrant at Maresca’s residence with assistance from the New Jersey State Police and Hasbrouck Heights Police Department and recovered the following:

  • 2 assault rifles
  • 1 fully operational ghost gun
  • 1 complete, but disassembled ghost gun
  • 1 partial ghost gun (lower receiver)
  • 2 shotguns
  • 18 illegal large-capacity magazines
  • large amounts of ammunition, including illegal hollow-point and armor piercing rounds
  • build kits to make firearms
  • 1 pellet gun

During the prior month, Maresca allegedly sold two ghost guns, one of which had an illegal 15-round magazine loaded with hollow-point bullets, to an undercover officer. The sales took place at Maresca’s residence, and each gun was sold for $1,650.

Ghost guns are not registered and do not have serial numbers, making them difficult to trace and making it harder for law enforcement to solve gun crimes.  Governor Murphy signed a law in November 2018 that makes it a crime to buy, manufacture, possess or sell ghost guns in New Jersey.

“In the midst of a pandemic, our detectives are doing all they can to address the scourge of gun violence in our cities,” said Attorney General Grewal. “A big part of our efforts has been to hold accountable those who fuel this gun violence by trafficking illegal firearms, especially ghost guns, in our state.  Law abiding residents don’t need these outlawed, untraceable guns, but they command a high price among criminals.”

“This is another in a series of important joint investigations by the Division of Criminal Justice and Paterson Police Department targeting criminal elements undermining public safety in the City of Paterson,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “Just last month, we announced arrests of 12 alleged members of a drug network run by the 42-50 set of the Crips street gang that was trafficking large amounts of heroin and crack cocaine in a violence-torn section of the city.  We will continue to work collaboratively to target the gangs, guns and drugs threatening this community.”

Paterson Mayor André Sayegh said: “Getting guns and drugs off our streets is our priority.  Last month, in partnership with our Attorney General, two drug mills were taken down in Paterson.  This month, as a part of that same partnership, illegal and lethal weapons were seized.”

Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said: “Once again, this is all about our strong partnership with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, that makes it clear, if you assist with, participate in, or profit from bloodshed in our community, we will hold you accountable.”

Maresca was charged with the following crimes:

  • Unlawful Possession of a Handgun – 2nd Degree (2 Counts)
  • Possession of an Assault Firearm – 2nd Degree (2 Counts)
  • Firearms Without a Serial Number – 3rd Degree (3 Counts)
  • Sale of a Manufactured Firearm Without a Serial Number – 3rd Degree (2 Counts)
  • Purchasing Parts to Manufacture a Firearm – 3rd Degree
  • Unlawful Sale of a Weapon – 4th Degree (2 Counts)
  • Possession of Illegal Large-Capacity Magazines – 4th Degree (2 Counts)
  • Sale of a Large-Capacity Magazine – 4th Degree
  • Possession of Hollow-Point Bullets – 4th Degree

Deputy Attorney General Angel Hector is lead prosecutor on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cynthia Vazquez, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.  The investigation was conducted by Detective Keith Franco, who was lead detective, and other Detectives in the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime North Unit, under the supervision of Sgt. Patrick Sole, Lt. Brian Bruton, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell; and by Detectives of the Paterson Police Department Narcotics Unit, under the leadership of Captain Bert Ribiero,  Chief Ibrahim Baycora, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale, and Paterson Mayor André Sayegh.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.  The second-degree charge of unlawful possession of a handgun carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or 3 ½ years, whichever is greater. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense Attorney: Undetermined


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