Criminal Justice

Suspended lawyer charged with carrying loaded gun into courthouse on day of his disbarment hearing

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A Florida lawyer was arrested Thursday after the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said courthouse security found a loaded firearm in his backpack as he arrived for his disbarment hearing, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

James Franklin Lowy, of Clearwater, did not have a concealed weapons permit and was charged with a felony for carrying a concealed weapon. Security officers at the Pinellas County Justice Center saw the gun’s outline in an X-ray machine. The .45-caliber Ruger handgun was loaded and had a round in the chamber.

Last year the Florida Bar suspended Lowy’s law license indefinitely for “causing great public harm” concerning $60,000 that went missing from a trust account.

On Friday, a Pinellas county judge set Lowy’s bail at $10,000 and ordered that, if released, he wear a GPS monitor and stay at his home except for work, worship, school or therapy, and also to surrender any other weapons he might have. The newspaper reported that Lowy was still in jail Friday morning.

This was not Lowy’s first brush with courthouse security. In 2002, courthouse security in New Port Richey found a small pipe in his briefcase that tested positive for marijuana residue. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia and was put on probation.

Lowy, 49, had financial problems in recent years that came to light when a bank foreclosed on the property for Vegas Showgirls, a St. Petersburg strip club owned by a company he headed, the Tampa Bay Times reported in 2014.

Lowy also owned a liquor store next door to the club.

Forced prostitution allegedly took place at Vegas Showgirls, which led to two trials in 2014 concerning human trafficking, with a no-contest plea from one man and a not guilty verdict for another. Managers at the club said the men were not its employees and that the club was not involved in the wrongdoing.

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