MORRISTOWN – A 21-year-old man who was on probation was charged with hiding an imitation handgun in a bush outside the Morris County Administration and Records building.

It's an example of how the state's no-carry law applies to all weapons, real or fake.

Officials said a witness reported seeing township resident Maurice Bates on April 30 hide what looked like a black handgun outside the county building on Court Street. The witness notified police the following day.

Metal detectors at the entrance to the building detects both real and imitation firearms, according to the Sheriff's Office.

A review of video surveillance footage captured Bates placing the object under the bush before visiting the county Probation Office and then picking it up after he left the building, sheriff's officials said.

Cops obtained a warrant to search Bates' apartment, where they said they found a black imitation handgun.

Bates was sentenced in March to two years of probation after pleading guilty to theft. He had been arrested in September on charges of burglary and possessing an air or spring gun in Roselle.

Bates is facing new charges of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He was being held at the Morris County Jail awaiting a detention hearing.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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