Lewiston man denies federal gun charge from Auburn incident

Mar. 26—PORTLAND — A man who reportedly "flashed" a gun that was tucked in his waistband behind a store in Auburn last year denied Tuesday a charge of being a felon with a firearm.

Gabriel Sanchez, 40, a transient in Lewiston, appeared in U.S. District Court in handcuffs and wearing a tan Androscoggin County Jail suit.

He pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Auburn Police said witnesses reported Sanchez had approached another person while displaying a tan gun in the area of the Circle K store at 21 Center St. in Auburn.

Sanchez had "flashed a firearm from below his shirt and held in his waistband," a witness told police along with a description of the gun and the defendant, according to court papers.

Police said they searched a homeless encampment near the store where they found Sanchez.

Investigating officers got a search warrant for a tent in which Sanchez was reportedly staying, believing the firearm a witness had described was in the tent, police said.

Sanchez denied a gun was in the tent, according to court papers.

During a search of the tent, police found a tan Canik 9mm handgun matching the description provided by the witness, as well as roughly 5 grams of fentanyl powder and other narcotic paraphernalia, police said.

Sanchez was charged with unlawful drug possession and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Police said Sanchez was prohibited from carrying a weapon due to a 2022 conviction for illegal possession of a firearm. In that case, he was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison.

The firearm charge was picked up by federal authorities because the gun was made outside Maine.

Sanchez waived his right to a hearing on his detention and will be held pending his trial on the charge, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Karen Frink Wolf ordered.

Sanchez could ask for a detention hearing if new information were to become available on the issue of whether any combination of conditions "reasonably assures" his future court appearances as well as the safety of the community, Wolf wrote in court papers.

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