Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli told reporters Monday that Christian Neith, of Bethlehem was searched four times on Dec. 29 before he was able to stash the 9mm handgun behind a cabinet in the intake area of Northampton County Prison. A week later, the gun was found, triggering a four-day lockdown.
Neith, 20, was charged Monday with a felony firearms charge, two misdemeanor weapons counts and a charge of recklessly endangering another person.
Neith's attorney, James Burke, said his client had no intention of trying to smuggle the weapon in. He said Neith was carrying the gun in a crotch holster because he was moving from one relative's house to another and he got scared when he was arrested on a domestic warrant while carrying it.
"It was really out of fear. He didn't have any intention of bringing the gun in as a transfer," Burke told The (Allentown) Morning Call, adding that his client would surrender to police Tuesday and has "fully cooperated" in the investigation.
County executive John Stoffa said the guard assigned to the intake area that day no longer works for the county, but he declined to say whether the guard had been fired or resigned. He said no disciplinary action has been taken against any other employee.
Director of Corrections Bob Meyers said the episode has prompted changes to the way inmates are processed. He says metal detector wands will now be used to search all inmates and the county plans to buy a metal detector chair that can determine if firearms are hidden anywhere on an inmate's body.