Indicted Ghost Machine-Gun Lawyer Challenges Red Flag Law After Wife Threatens Suicide by Gun

Maryland attorney Carl Somerlock was arrested by Howard County police at his home in Glenwood, MD back in May of 2019 for possession of three illegal ghost machine guns, two rifles, and a silencer, all without serial numbers (See Statement of Charges). They were part of a 30+ weapons and ammo cache found in his home some 31 miles from the US Capitol during the police’s execution of a search and seizure warrant issued by a local judge pursuant to Maryland’s then recently-enacted red flag law. This on the night his lawyer-wife had drunk-texted a female friend threatening suicide by “Carl’s gun.” This case has been flying under the public radar for three years and given the Uvalde tragedy, as we used to say in the USAF, it's time to switch Russi Leaks' surveillance radar into High PRF mode and paint this bogey for the high-stakes case it is.

After arrest Somerlock was released on $75,000 bond but was arrested a second time by ATF/DHS agents after he was indicted (see Federal Indictment ) by a Maryland federal grand jury in July of 2019 on similar federal gun charges after he continued to order machine gun parts over the Internet, according to WBAL TV in Baltimore. (See WBAL report: “Howard County attorney accused of making and modifying guns”).  Out on bail again and awaiting trial, this somewhat notorious Maryland criminal defense and divorce lawyer, known for his willingness to defend the most depraved and heinous of clients, is now challenging the legality of the search warrant based on what his lawyers describe as willful police misconduct.  But he is not only challenging the warrant’s legality.  He and his lawyers Robert C. Bonsib and Andrew C. White are challenging the constitutionality of Maryland’s red flag law itself in what is a first of its kind case in Maryland.  (see The State of Maryland vs Carl Somerlock, Case Nos. D-101-CR-19-000951, C-13-CR-19-000409); The United States vs Carl Somerlock, Case No: 1:19-cr-00369-ELH, MD US District Court). 

With the recent mass child shooting in Uvalde, Texas, this case has taken on increased significance since it has the potential to seriously impact public safety in a bad way at a time a large majority of Americans believe we should be moving in the other direction on responsible gun safety measures.  These state red flag laws are the state legislatures’ attempts to address the volatile and dangerous intersection of mental health crises, high-capacity assault weapons, and the mass murder of children.

A Sample of Somerlock's Clientele

In 2015 Somerlock served as the criminal defense attorney for convicted pedophile and child rapist William H. Steinhaus, a Brunswick Maryland man who is serving two currently running 25-year federal and state sentences for sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl and then sharing the photos of the rape with an on-line community, at least nine of whose members were subsequently arrested.  (See State of MD v William Steinhuas, Case No. 10-K-15-056367 and United States v William Steinhaus, 1:15-cr-00544-CCB). Somerlock’s second most notorious client was perhaps Larnell Lyles, who was convicted in 2017 of first-degree murder for gunning down 22-year-old ice cream truck driver Brandon Brown at his ice cream truck in front of a line full of children.

The Facts of the Ghost Gun Case

According to federal court documents, Somerlock’s wife, Christine S. Moore, who is also a Maryland attorney, had drunk-texted a female friend claiming she had cocked and might shoot herself with “Carl’s gun” that he had left out after a night of heavy drinking, and that if she didn’t hear from her again, she’d know why.  The friend received no follow-up response and called 911 and reported her friend might be suicidal by her husband’s pistol and requested a health and wellness check.  The police arrived and knocked on the door and were greeted by Somerlock’s intoxicated wife while he was passed out in the bedroom. There they witnessed several guns in plain view.

Based on her text indicating ideation of suicide by gun, and observing her intoxication and the presence of guns out in the open, they took his wife into custody and transported her to the local hospital for an emergency psychiatric evaluation and sought an emergency Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO).  In parallel, an officer prepared and obtained a search and seizure warrant that was signed by a local judge under the new Maryland red flag law and the ERPO, since Somerlock and his wife were both refusing to consent to turn over the guns or to allow entry for seizure.  It was the female officer’s first time drafting a red flag law search and seizure warrant.  Armed with their just-signed warrant, the police, who had been maintaining a well-reasoned and justified presence outside the house with Somerlock cuffed in a squad car while they waited for the warrant, would enter and seize the guns. Among the weapons found and seized, surprisingly, were two un-serialized AR-15-style machine guns of unknown manufacturer, a pistol converted into a machine-gun with a “Glock conversion kit,” two unregistered rifles/shotguns, and an un-serialized silencer, commonly referred to as “ghost guns.”

            Somerlock was released on bail by a Howard County District Court Judge Ricardo Zwaig and his release conditions included he was “Not to engage in criminal activity” and that he was to “Not own/possess weapons.”  Once released, however, WBAL TV News in Baltimore would report that he still continued to order machine gun parts over the Internet.    (This was not verified in any court documents to date.)  He was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore and was arrested by agents of the ATF/DHS on July 30, 2019.  Let out on bail again, he left his wife’s home and moved to a house he bought in Bunker Hill, West Virginia after getting court approval, where he awaits trial currently scheduled for October 11, 2022.  The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission or Bar Association to date have not acted to suspend Somerlock’s license to practice law in Maryland.  He continues to ply his trade mostly in western Maryland in Frederick and Washington County courthouses.  It appears Somerlock’s $75,000 bail bond was not forfeited as there is no court record of a forfeiture.

            Somerlock and his lawyers Robert C. Bonsib of the MarcusBonsib, LLC law firm in Greenbelt, and Andrew C. White would subsequently challenge the validity of the warrant claiming that the police had acted in bad faith and lied on the search warrant application in an effort to deceive the judge into signing the warrant so they could seize his guns.  But Somerlock and his attorneys didn’t stop there.  They went far afield and outright challenged the constitutionality of Maryland’s red flag law itself presumably on 2nd and 4th Amendment grounds.  They moved for what is called a “Franks Hearing” on the validity of the underlying search and seizure warrant.  They claimed that the discovery of the illegal un-serialized weapons found during the search were fruits of the poisoned tree and that if the search warrant was thrown out, the evidence of the ghost guns and silencer found in his house resulting from the search must be suppressed at his trial

            A hearing on whether to even allow such a Franks hearing was held on April 29, 2022.  On May 13, 2022, Judge Ellen L. Hollander published a 50-page Memorandum Opinion in which she justified her decision granting Somerlock’s motion for a Franks hearing, pursuant solely to issue of the legality of the search warrant and whether the evidence should be suppressed.  However, the judge deferred ruling or even considering the greater issue of whether Maryland’s red flag law is unconstitutional. We await his Franks hearing.  Stay tuned.

Opinion and Commentary

The amount of thought and effort Judge Hollander put into her 50-page Memorandum Opinion, on just whether a Franks hearing was legally justified, while deferring a hearing or ruling on the red flag law constitutionality issue, or on the legality of the search warrant, indicates she is fully aware of the impact this case, as precedent, would ultimately have on public safety in general, and on good-faith efforts by police officers in their fast preparation and execution of red flag law gun search and seizure warrants in the breach in potentially volatile domestic situations, where guns and suicidal or homicidal ideations or mental illness or impairment are known to be in the mix.

Howard County Police Got it Right:  Uvalde Police – Horribly Epic Fail

The recent mass shooting of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas by an 18-year-old with an AR-15 gives this particular case outsized significance in this moment of tragedy, where a faster and more decisive police response would have reduced the death toll.  It is the most epic failure by American law enforcement in modern times, which is somewhat of a surprise given it was in Texas of all states.  Having seen the refusal or hesitancy of the Texas police and federal law enforcement to take quick, decisive action to prevent further loss of life of children, the Howard County police in Maryland, and Judge Zwaig, in contrast, are to be commended for acting to intervene immediately and responsibly in what can only be described as their good-faith efforts to obtain and execute their first ever red flag law search and seizure warrant based on the facts, evidence, and law that were before them given the obstructive and defiant behavior of the intoxicated lawyer-couple. 

They were acting in response to what was a health and wellness check request by Somerlock’s wife’s friend, in which the presence of guns in the house containing two drunk lawyers reasonably posed a clear and present danger to at least one of its occupants who was drunk-texting a female friend about suicide by her husband’s gun that she had in her hand and had cocked. This isn’t a case where the cops knew or suspected he was hiding illegal machine guns in his house and then concocted a false pretext for a warrant to get the illegal guns they believed were there.   Especially since they saw some of the guns (not the machine guns) with their own eyes inside the house in plain sight during the health and wellness check.  This would be the first Maryland red flag law search and seizure action in Howard County since Maryland’s red flag law was enacted on October 1, 2018, just six months before Somerlock’s arrest. Let’s cut them some slack.

A close reading of all the pleadings filed by Somerlock’s attorneys and the DOJ and the Howard County Police indicates the police were acting in good faith and there was no attempt to deliberately deceive the judge into believing falsely that Somerlock’s wife could be in danger if the guns were not seized.  They seized the guns while she was still drunk in the hospital being evaluated for suicidal ideations, seemingly too drunk to be mentally competent enough to give an informed consent for a search (in the officer’s opinion at the time), and, she had refused to give her consent for the search or to voluntarily agree to surrender her husband’s guns while at the hospital.  The refusal to surrender the guns by both lawyers made the search and seizure warrant an immediate imperative under the red flag law and the ERPO.  Meanwhile, back at the house, Somerlock remained cuffed in the squad car and refused to consent to the search and seizure as well.

Somerlock and His Attorney Wife Complicit?

Obviously, Somerlock knew if he agreed to the search they’d find his ghost guns and that would put an end to his freedom and license to practice law, maybe even his wife’s too.  His wife told the police she’d stay at a friends’ house instead of returning to her own home, but from the perspective of the police, who could predict at that time what would happen after she was discharged from the hospital on her own recognizance with a drunk and possibly enraged husband at home in possession of multiple guns? The police had no way of knowing then that the likely reason both lawyers were obstructing the search and refusing to turn over the guns was because, perhaps, they both knew about the ghost guns and as lawyers, even drunk lawyers, they would have known what was really at stake for both of them, whereas the cops didn’t know about the ghost guns yet. 

Invoking Spousal Privilege on the Witness Stand

It is unknown at this time whether Somerlock’s wife will choose to invoke her spousal privilege or will she testify against Somerlock in return for immunity and retention of her law license.  What we do know, based on Maryland Case Search, is that Somerlock and his wife continue to work together to represent clients in Frederick County courthouses even today, and it appears they are still married and living together now in West Virginia.  A reasonable inference one can make from these public facts is, at a minimum, that they intend to stay married, perhaps at least until Somerlock’s trial so she can still invoke her spousal privilege on the witness stand. 

Somerlock’s Duty to His Wife Versus His Guns

At the scene, Somerlock had told the cops he would lock his guns and ammo in a safe (All 30?) instead of removing them.  But who knows if he would have followed through, or, whether he would haven given his wife the combination?  Further, a search of the land records indicated the house was solely titled to Somerlock’s wife, not him.  It was her house!  Why didn’t he offer to take his guns and leave?

Once out of the hospital, with Somerlock uncuffed and the police gone from the scene, who knows what tragedy might have ensued if his wife came back to her own house to pack her bags after Somerlock had been detained and cuffed for perhaps hours...all because of her drunk text to her female friend which exposed him to criminal liability.  Her text can only be interpreted as a distraught cry for help to a trusted female friend as she contemplated suicide by gun.  Somerlock’s legal argument that the police had no right to seize his guns inside his wife’s house because he was the gun-owner not his wife, was ridiculous.  If the guns are inside your wife’s house, and you both live there, they are in her constructive “possession” as much as yours, whether she is inside her house in the moment or down the street at the grocery store, or in the hospital about to be released on her own recognizance.  There is no “gun safe exception” to the Maryland red flag law nor one for “lack of legal ownership.”

Had I been that officer writing that warrant under this set of facts and circumstances, I’d have done the same thing.  Same goes for the judge.  In the moment, the Howard County police officers, to include officer Corporal Molly Gale who drafted the search warrant and EPRO, and the presiding judge, Roberto Zwaig, who signed the warrant, got it right.  God bless them, they all did the right thing for Somerlock’s intoxicated and suicidal wife, at the expense of what would have otherwise been Somerlock’s temporary, short-term inconvenience.  Had he not had his ghost machine guns and silencer, he’d have gotten his guns back after the Court found his wife no longer a danger to herself.  There’s a due process procedure under the Maryland red flag law that preserves one’s gun rights once the suicidal mental health crisis has resolved.  The need to ensure Somerlock’s wife didn’t have access to guns inside her house after her hospital discharge reasonably outweighed any 2nd Amendment right Somerlock had under the circumstances.

Go Sleep on Your Friend’s Couch Dude

It is noted that Somerlock apparently did not offer to remove the guns from the house so that his wife could return to a gun-free house and sleep in her own bed in the house that she owns.  C’mon man.  If your lawyer-wife is in such a bad emotional state, likely because of your own criminal behavior in the home, that she’s drunk-texting her female friend about eating your pistol, a good husband voluntarily removes the guns from the house to ensure her safety and peace of mind, assuming he actually cares more about his wife and her career than his guns.  You owe a duty to your wife’s safety before you owe a duty to your guns and the 2nd Amendment.  Was his wife’s knowledge of his ghost machine guns and silencer assembly inside her own home what was driving her over the edge?  This level of selfishness and entitlement at the expense of a loved one mental health and safety is unconscionable.  Now he and his lawyers have the gall to parade him publicly as some kind of 2nd Amendment champion for gun owners? We see you. 

With Friends Like This...

Perhaps in hindsight he should have asked his fellow Freemason buddy Benjamin Zamostny, Master of Freemason Lodge #84 in Hagerstown and Smithburg High School marching band leader, to let him sleep on his couch and store his guns. Like Somerlock, his buddy seems to practice a similar form of alarming gun worship, as can be seen on his current Facebook page screenshots below. It is noted that Zamostny is the music teacher and marching band leader at Smithburg High School in Maryland. I guess that means he sees himself as the Darth Vader figure leading his student stormtroopers on his Facebook banner photo as he advertises public raffles for assault rifles in his Facebook feed. Let's dial back the public display of assault weapon supplier, combined with the "Let's Go Brandon" tee shirt, as it's likely your students monitor your Facebook page, Mr. High School band leader. After Uvalde, I would imagine this make at least some of one' students particularly uncomfortable.

Benjamin Zamostny, Master, - Freemason Lodge # 84 and Smithburg High School Band Leader
(Facebook Homepage as of 6/21/222)
Somerlock Associate Benjamin Zamostny's May 31st Facebook Post

The Elephant in the Room

And then there’s the elephant in the room.  What did Somerlock need a silencer and four untraceable ghost machine guns and rifles for anyway in May of 2019?   While one might concede firing a machine gun loudly at a gun range or out in the middle of nowhere might be fun sport, silenced machine guns and Glock-converted machine pistols?  Not so much.  Were they for a contract hit?  Were they for a future attack on the Capitol in the event Trump lost in November 2020?  Did he manufacture and assemble them in his Glenwood, Maryland home as was reported by WBAL TV?  Was he supplying machine guns and silencers to third party groups like domestic terrorists, neo-Nazis, or hostile foreign actors operating on US soil, like the two Russian GRU officers exposed in last week’s Russi Leaks exposé on Putin’s assassination plot on US Soil?  (See

How many machine guns has he assembled and provided to others over time?  If true, what motivated Somerlock to continue to order machine gun parts over the Internet after release, a flagrant violation of his pre-trial release conditions. That is extremely risky behavior for a practicing criminal defense and family lawyer who is married to and living with another lawyer, and thus, that begs the next question:  Was someone coercing him into doing it or was he doing it of his own free will?

In a broader context, how many other illegal ghost machine-gun weapons caches are there secretly stashed in private homes in the greater Washington DC region, or Michigan, or in other swing states? We know the Proud Boys stashed weapons in Northern Virginia just across the Potomac on the night of January 5th in the hopes that Trump would invoke the insurrection act to remain in power.  The weapons cache in Somerlock’s house at time of seizure was just a snapshot in time in May of 2019, smack in the middle of the Trump presidency, right after the Meuller report was released in April.  But the feds aren’t talking.  The ATF and the DOJ prosecutors refuse to discuss details of the case upon request for comment by Russi Leaks. Same goes for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office.

These types of questions, which are all based on reasonable inferences one could make from the facts and circumstances as pleaded by the parties in the ghost-gun case, and given where things stood in this country in the toxic and polarized social and political environment we’ve found ourselves in since 2016 and continuing through January 6, of 2021 and still even today, require answers.  Answers are needed if we are going to be able to make informed decisions about reasonable gun safety legislation.

The description of this Glenwood Maryland weapons cache in Somerlock’s wife’s home reads more like a secret armory, available to a secret army on demand for nefarious purposes, not the gun collection of a lone gun enthusiast.  It sounds more like a secret militant militia weapons cache.  Was he standing back and standing by to serve as some group's armorer and criminal defense lawyer-in-waiting, all within easy reach, just 31 miles away from the US Capitol?  In our post-January 6th America, this secret weapons cache in a home in Glenwood Maryland near Washington DC, and as it happens, in full disclosure, just 6 miles from where I and my ex-wife (his client) once lived in Dayton, MD, should give one serious pause. 

Red Flag Law Carried Out in the Breach

If ever there was an example of a legitimate red flag law application in the breach, this was it.  The combination of alcohol abuse with easy access to 30+ guns in the house with one of the residents texting about suicide by gun…wow, just, wow.  Somerlock’s and his lawyers’ attack on the Maryland red flag law so that he and others like him can continue to amass more and more guns, even untraceable ghost machine guns and silencers, and even inside homes where residents are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, should give us all, even the most avid gun enthusiasts, serious pause.  (Full disclosure: I used to hunt in my late teens and early twenties in PA and used to own a Sears and Roebuck 12-guage shotgun I used to hunt game with and shoot skeet, and a 30/30 Marlin lever action deer rifle.)

The police of Howard County can be forgiven and should be lauded for moving quickly instead of waiting, and waiting, like the cops in Uvalde, waiting to observe 100 percent of the niceties while innocent children were dying.  The Howard County police officers weren’t in any way acting like fascist Nazis or crooked cops:  They were seeking to protect an impaired, suicidal woman by acting quickly and decisively to temporarily remove the one element in her environment that made her home a potentially deadly powder keg.

Shame on You – Lawyers All

Now it’s one thing to seek to suppress evidence obtained by what might have been a non-perfect search warrant application.  Fair enough.  I think Somerlock’s Franks hearing arguments are wholly disingenuous but hey, the man’s got a right to a vigorous defense.  But trying to bootstrap that into a full-scale constitutional assault on Maryland’s red flag law itself?  That’s another agenda altogether, an extreme agenda, with far-reaching consequences. 

Shame on you Mr. Somerlock for not acting to protect your wife and then leveraging your case into a full-scale assault on our red flag law. And shame on your lawyers, Robert C. Bonsib of the MarcusBonsib, LLC law firm in Greenbelt, and Andrew C. White of the Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin, and White law firm in Baltimore, who seem to perhaps have a political agenda that goes far beyond Somerlock’s criminal defense.  In Andrew White’s case, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland for almost ten years, the same office prosecuting Somerlock now.  He also served as Litigation Advisor to the Clinton Independent Counsel in the Monica Lewinsky investigation, so it would seem on the surface that he hangs with the “right crowd.”  Shame on you Mr. White for aiding and abetting Somerlock’s assault on Maryland’s red flag law, for betraying the Maryland US Attorneys’ office you used to serve, and for taking this ghost gun case a bridge too far at the expense of Americans’ public health and safety, while bending the knee at the altar of the ghost-gun.