James Franklin Lowy, a lawyer accused of bringing a loaded gun to the Pinellas County justice center, told deputies he forgot to leave the weapon in his car.
"He was asked if he had any intention to hurt anybody or hurt himself and he denied that," Pinellas Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Gross said Friday. "He said it was an accident."
Lowy, 49, arrived at the justice center at 14250 49th St. N about 9 a.m. Thursday for a Florida Bar hearing. He had been suspended indefinitely last September for misappropriation of funds.
Lowy put his backpack in the X-ray machine and deputies noticed the outline of a gun.
A search of the backpack revealed a fully loaded Ruger .45-caliber handgun with a round in the chamber. Deputies also found a loaded magazine.
Lowy does not have a concealed weapons permit. Gross said Lowy told deputies he often carried a gun because of his "type of work," referring to Vegas Showgirls at 10570 Gandy Blvd. Lowy is a trustee of Vegas Management, which owns the strip club.
He was arrested on a felony charge of carrying a concealed firearm. A Pinellas judge ordered that Lowy's bail remain at $10,000, and upon his release, he will be outfitted with a GPS monitor and will remain home except for purposes of work, worship, school or therapy, court records state. The judge also ordered that Lowy surrender any other weapons.
This is not the first time Lowy has been questioned at a courthouse security entrance. In October 2002, an X-ray machine at a New Port Richey courthouse detected a "questionable" object in his briefcase, according to a St. Petersburg Times article. A deputy opened the briefcase and found a small pipe that tested positive for marijuana residue.
Lowy was charged with misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation, Pasco court records show.
Lowy, of Redington Beach, was admitted as a lawyer in Florida in 1996, Bar records show. He graduated from the University of Florida's law school in 1992. A court records search shows he has represented clients in criminal and civil cases.
The Florida Bar filed an emergency petition to have Lowy suspended last September after an auditor found that he "appeared to be causing great public harm based on trust account shortages in excess of $60,000."
Among the findings: Lowy paid himself $271,146 from his trust account without identifying the client or matter involved. He also failed to distribute some $19,000 that belonged to his clients, and did not maintain cash receipts or client ledgers, records state.
A Florida Bar spokeswoman said Lowy was attending the second day of a hearing where the facts of his case were being presented. The hearing was rescheduled for Thursday.
Lowy remained at the Pinellas County Jail Friday afternoon.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.