LOWELL -- A week after a superior court judge drastically reduced cash bail, freeing John Wachaga while his shooting case was pending, the 20-year-old city man was back before a judge on Monday after he was arrested Sunday in a firearms case.

Wachaga, of 52 1/2 Huntington St., pleaded not guilty in Lowell District Court on Monday to charges of possession of a defaced firearm in a felony, carrying a loaded firearm without a license, carrying a firearm without a license, possession of ammuntion without a firearm's identification card, and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

John Wachaga, 20, of 52 1/2 Huntington St., Lowell, was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm and operating without a license. - See more at:
John Wachaga, 20, of 52 1/2 Huntington St., Lowell, was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm and operating without a license. - See more at: http://blogs.lowellsun.com/policeline/2014/05/04/how-and-the-hell-does-this-happen/#sthash.GmnbiDHe.dpuf (SUN/ROBERT MILLS)

Prosecutor Rachel Perlman explained that after conducting surveillance, Lowell police vice unit conducted a motor-vehicle stop on Gorham Street near Ellsworth Street at about 7 p.m. Initially police stopped a woman, a drug addict known to police, after police say they saw a drug deal involving the woman and a man in a car.

The woman told police she paid the man in the car the money she owed him from a prior marijuana purchase. When police stopped the car, which was being driven by Wachaga, they found he didn't have a valid driver's license. Police also spotted the handle of a black, 38-caliber handgun sticking out from under a seat, Perlman said.

Wachaga is already facing charges of armed assault with intent to murder and armed assault with intent to rob in connection with the Jan. 20 shooting of a 16-year-old Lowell boy on East Merrimack Street.

The 16-year-old survived with two gunshots to his leg. Jason Ruggs, 20, and Robert Loh, 19, both of Lowell, were also charged in connection with that incident.

His next court date in that case is June 22 for a prtrial conference.

When Wachaga was arraigned in Lowell Distict Court after the shooting, he was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail. After he was indicted, Lowell Superior Court Judge Edward P. Leibensperger on April 24 reduced that amount to $10,000.

Defense attorney Robert Normandin said Wachaga's family "scraped" together the $10,000 to get him released the first time, but he suggested they could raise more than that this time.

Wachaga's next court date in Lowell District Court on the new case is June 5.

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