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Fort Drum veteran pleads to misdemeanors in weapon-possession case

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A decorated combat veteran whose January arrest on weapon-possession charges prompted outrage from his family and gun-rights proponents pleaded guilty Friday in Jefferson County Court to two misdemeanor counts and has been sentenced to a conditional discharge.

Nathan H. Haddad, 32, of 25240 Waddingham Road, town of LeRay, pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He admitted that on Jan. 6, he possessed 30-round AR-15 and AR-7 magazines for ammunition, devices that are intended for military use only. He did not possess any weapons or ammunition, only devices used to feed ammunition into firearms.

Mr. Haddad, a former Fort Drum soldier, was charged by Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies as the result of a traffic check on Steinhilber Road in the town of LeRay, where Mr. Haddad’s vehicle was parked. He was cited under a 1994 section of the state penal law that makes possession of “a large-capacity ammunition feeding device” a felony count. A sheriff’s detective later said that Mr. Haddad advertised the devices for sale on Craigslist and was waiting to meet a potential buyer.

Mr. Haddad’s brother, Michael, Jamestown, established a defense fund to raise money for “an honorable man who served his country and is now a victim of a government that has taken routine actions and criminalized them.” As of Friday, a website for donations showed nearly $50,000 has been pledged. Several bloggers also took up the cause, claiming, among other things, that Mr. Haddad’s arrest was an attack on the 2nd Amendment.

Mr. Haddad was in the Army for more than a decade and was discharged in October 2010 after serving four deployments, including service in Iraq. His last assignment was in South Korea, where he suffered a shoulder injury during training.

If he remains free of legal trouble for one year, the conditional discharge will stand as his sentence. If not, he could be brought back into court and resentenced. He also was fined $100 Friday for each of the two weapon convictions and had his pistol permit reinstated.

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