An Army veteran in New York is facing up to seven years in prison for possessing five empty 30-round ammunition magazines.
Nate Haddad told WGRZ-TV he was parked on a road last month waiting to meet someone interested in buying them off him when police approached. According to the station, the magazines were for an AR-15 rifle, the same type of weapon Haddad once carried in combat. Magazines over 10 rounds have been illegal in New York since 1994, unless they were manufactured before the law went into effect. Haddad says he thought his were legal, until he found out otherwise.
“I certainly did not think I was committing a felony crime by having these,” Haddad told WGRZ. “My understanding of what I had in my possession was that it was manufactured before 1994, but the arresting officers told me otherwise after I showed them the magazines that I had in my possession.”
Haddad — who retired from 12 years of active duty in 2010 after sustaining a shoulder injury — now faces five counts of criminal weapons possession, punishable by up to seven years in prison. An online fund for his defense started by his brother has raised more than $40,000.
He was offered a deal this week to plead guilty to five misdemeanor counts and avoid jail time, but declined — citing, for one, how it would impact his job at Fort Drum, where he still works as a civilian employee.
There’s another reason too: “Even if I took that deal I would still be branded as a criminal, and I don’t think I should be,” Haddad said.