Loaded, Unlicensed Handgun Carried into Casino

Dropped cigarette pack filled with methamphetamine led state police to arrest Northampton man who carried concealed weapon into Sands Bethlehem Casino.


A dropped cigarette pack led police inside the early Wednesday to arrest a man carrying a loaded .380 semi-automatic handgun without a license. He had it in his right rear pants pocket, court records say.

The man also was allegedly carrying a quantity of methamphetamine.

Carl Raymond Heckman, 44, of Northampton informed police he was carrying the gun when they took him into custody for the suspected drug possession, the records say. Police did not know beforehand that he was carrying the gun.

Heckman told police he thought he had a permit to carry the gun, but then admitted it may have expired “sometime ago.” He said he had become accustomed to carrying around the gun without a valid permit, the records say.

Police later found out that Heckman bought the gun from a man he identified as a “close friend.” Police called the man and verified Heckman’s explanation, the records say.

According to a criminal complaint filed by state police Trooper Michael Hodgskin:

  • Police knew nothing about the gun when they were dispatched to the SouthSide casino around 1:38am for a report of found drugs. Hodgskin met with the Sands’ security supervisor, who gave the trooper a Camel cigarette pack that contained five pieces of “tin foil,” each containing a small amount of an off-white crystallized substance – what Hodgskin recognized as methamphetamine.
  • The security supervisor said the man who dropped the cigarette pack was still in the casino and was being monitored by security guards.
  • A security guard told Hodgskin he saw the man drop the pack on the floor. The guard said he retrieved it and intended to return it to the man. The guard said he opened the pack and saw a clear sandwich bag that he believed contained “narcotics.” He immediately notified his supervisor -- the security chief.
  • The guard then directed Hodgskin’s attention to a set of slot machines and identified the man. Another state police trooper approached the man, and as he took him into custody, the man – by now identified as Heckman – told the trooper he was carrying a “concealed firearm.”
  • Hodgskin recovered the black Ruger .380 semi-automatic handgun “loaded with live rounds.” It had been in Heckman’s right rear pants pocket. Heckman also had a film canister containing additional off-white crystallized substances later confirmed to be methamphetamine.

Heckman, of 1514 Cedar St., was arraigned Wednesday by on-duty District Judge Joseph Barner of Lower Nazareth Township on charges of firearms not to be carried without a license and violations of the controlled substance, drug, device and cosmetic act. He was committed to Northampton County Prison after failing to post $10,000 bail.


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