WATERTOWN, N.Y. — Bloggers are storming Jefferson County with their anger and disbelief over the arrest in January of a former Fort Drum soldier because he had in his car an empty “large capacity ammunition feeding device.”
The shower of criticism, which takes direct aim at the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices, is fueling a defense fund for Nathan H. Haddad, 32, of 25240 Waddingham Road, town of LeRay, that at the latest report had grown to more than $34,500.
His brother, Michael Haddad, Jamestown, who spearheaded the show of support, has set a $100,000 goal.
Michael Haddad could not be reached Friday for comment, but in a blog he wrote, “The purpose of this fund was to be able to provide a vigorous, tenacious and viable defense for an honorable man who served his country and is now a victim of a government that has taken routine actions and criminalized them.”
Nathan Haddad was arrested on the evening of Jan. 6 on Steinhilber Road in the town of LeRay by a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy on five felony counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He did not possess weapons or ammunition in his car, but had five 30-round AR-15 magazines for ammunition. He was not jailed, but awaits grand jury action on charges that, if he is convicted, could bring him a prison sentence.
One of the early bloggers who took up Mr. Haddad’s cause alleged that he was being charged under New York’s recently legislated gun laws, which were passed in reaction to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, but were not yet in effect.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Kristyna S. Mills said Mr. Haddad is cited under a 1994 section of the state penal law, which reads, in part, “possesses a large capacity ammunition feeding device.” The paragraph does not specify that the device must be loaded to justify the charge.
Mrs. Mills said no traffic charges were filed against Mr. Haddad. She declined to comment about what prompted the traffic stop or to discuss merits of the case. Sheriff John P. Burns refused to provide any background information about the arrest.
Mr. Haddad was discharged from the Army in October 2010. During a military career that spanned more than a decade, he served four deployments, with service in Iraq. His Army service was brought to an end by a shoulder injury he suffered during special forces training in South Korea.
Michael Haddad and some of the bloggers who have joined the cause compared the former soldier’s situation to the suggestion that David Gregory of NBC could be criminally prosecuted because he displayed an empty high-capacity gun magazine during a “Meet the Press” interview in December. District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan declined to prosecute, reasoning that doing so “would not promote public safety.”
T.L. Davis, author of the book “The Constitutionalist,” in which he explores the rights guaranteed Americans in the Constitution, blogged, “The case of Nathan Haddad should boil the blood of any good American. ... This is why, even though one is a law-abiding citizen, never talk to police officers and never give them permission to search your vehicle without a warrant describing in detail the area to be searched and the things to be seized.”
The Davis blog issued a challenge to the Jefferson County district attorney’s office: “Let’s see if Nathan Haddad is afforded the same type of justice that a white, rich, liberal with a television news program can expect.”