The anticipated sale of empty large capacity ammunition feeding devices was thwarted by a Jefferson County sheriffs deputy the evening of Jan. 6 when he stopped to check a parked vehicle, according to the sheriffs office.
After Deputy John M. Gleason found the devices, illegal since 1994, he arrested a former Fort Drum soldier, who admitted to the deputy he had advertised them on Craigslist for sale and expected to meet with a potential buyer, said sheriffs Detective David J. Pustizzi Jr.
The arrest that evening of Nathan H. Haddad, 32, of 25240 Waddingham Road, LeRay, on felony weapon counts has sparked a bloggers storm of protest. A defense fund initiated by his brother, Michael Haddad, Jamestown, has grown to nearly $35,000. Writers on the Internet criticized the deputy for arresting a former military member on accusations of having empty loading devices and are challenging the district attorneys office to drop the charge.
Sheriff John P. Burns, who previously declined to comment about the case, said Monday there is more to it than his critics understand, and referred questions to Detective Pustizzi.
The arrest did not result from any undercover investigation, Mr. Pustizzi said. Deputy Gleason just happened to come across a vehicle with hazard lights flashing off Steinhilber Road in the town of LeRay, he said. The deputy stopped to determine if the motorist needed assistance and then became suspicious about some responses the car owner, Mr. Haddad, gave him, the detective said.
Detective Gleason requested and was granted permission to conduct a search, and he discovered five 30-round AR-15 magazines for ammunition.
As a result of his admission about advertising the devices for sale on Craigslist. Mr. Haddad was waiting for a prospective buyer to arrive, Mr. Pustizzi said. No one showed.
State law specifies possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, loaded or not, is a felony.
Mr. Pustizzi said the Sheriffs Department recognizes military personnel are issued such devices, and if an investigation had revealed an active-duty soldier had been found in authorized possession of the devices, no arrest would have been made.
The detective said he can only speculate how Mr. Haddad obtained the devices. Mr. Haddad was in the Army 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 special forces training.