PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Cranston man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court last week to serve four years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to felony charges stemming from his 2020 arrest for possessing an illegal ghost gun and dealing narcotics.
Maliek Smith (age 24) pleaded nolo contendere to one count each of possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and possession of a pistol without a license.
At a hearing before Superior Court Justice Joseph A. Montalbano, the court sentenced Smith to 10 years at the ACI with four years to serve and the balance suspended with probation.
"It is relatively common, frankly, for my office to prosecute defendants involved in the distribution of narcotics who use illegal firearms," said Attorney General Neronha. "What stands out in this case, however, is that the firearm used by the defendant was intentionally assembled to have no form of identification or serial number – otherwise known as a 'ghost gun'. Just last year, the state legislature passed a law to ban possession of ghost guns because of the danger they pose to our communities, since they are sought out by those who are otherwise prohibited from purchasing a firearm legally. I commend the Cranston Police Department for their solid work in taking a ghost gun out of their community."
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the afternoon of October 10, 2020, Smith was arrested by members of the Cranston Police Department in possession of Oxycodone pills and a handgun that lacked a serial number and was untraceable.
On that day, members of the Cranston Police Department received a tip of social media video that depicted Smith in possession of a handgun. Officers were able to locate Smith, based on his social media posts, a short time later in a vehicle on Howard Street.
During a search of Smith, officers seized a loaded Glock-style 9mm handgun, which did not have any unique identifying serial numbers on it, along with 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Officers also seized 18 Oxycodone pills.
"Untraceable firearms, referred to as 'ghost guns,' have become the weapon of choice for individuals involved in drug dealing and other criminal activity, said Colonel Michael J. Winquist, Chief of Police for the Cranston Police Department. "These guns pose a serious threat to public safety. I commend the officers and dispatcher from the Cranston Police Department who worked on the investigation and safely apprehended the armed suspect. I also wish to thank the legislators who passed the law to address these dangerous weapons and the prosecutors who secured a conviction and a sentence of incarceration."
The case was prosecuted in the Superior Court by Assistant Attorney General Joseph McBurney. The police investigation was led by Officer Brian Corvese of the Cranston Police Department.