A decorated combat veteran and Chautauqua County native has made national headlines after being arrested a month ago for possessing empty 30-round magazines. His brother is now lending a hand.
The arrest and subsequent charges come after New York state recently placed further limits on the number of bullets held in a magazine.
Nathan Haddad is facing five felony counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon for the Jan. 6 arrest in LeRay by sheriff's deputies. No weapons or ammunition were found in his vehicle, police said. The former combat veteran has a court appearance Wednesday in Jefferson County.
His brother, Michael Haddad, of Jamestown, is spearheading efforts to get those charges reduced. Through an online blog - gofundme.com - Michael has raised more than $38,000 for his brother's counsel.
"When I found out he was arrested, it wasn't about whether he committed a crime or not," Michael Haddad told The Post-Journal. "The main thing for me was to get those charges reduced.
"My whole purpose is to make sure my brother has adequate funds to fight this thing. This isn't about creating a debate about guns or the law. It's about helping a disabled veteran."
Nathan Haddad was a 12-year combat veteran in the U.S. Army before receiving a medical discharge in 2010. Michael Haddad also served in the Army.
Police said his possession of the Colt Manufacturing AR-15 rifle-style magazines violates current state law, passed in 1994, which limits the number of bullets in a magazine to 10. According to a police report from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Nathan Haddad was found in possession of the 30-round magazines by deputies at 5:41 p.m. on Steinhilber Road in LeRay.
Michael Haddad said he does not know what his brother was doing with the magazines at the time of his arrest.
The New York SAFE Act, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and further limits magazines to seven bullets, begins in April.
Michael Haddad, who is considering running for a County Legislature seat representing Jamestown, said he's surprised by the attention his brother's story has garnered. He's also grateful for the donations.
"Within the first week I think we raised a couple thousand dollars," he said. "But once people found the website we raised almost $18,000 within a 24-hour period. That is what has been most humbling.
"A lot of the donations are from unemployed people donating $5. They're telling me, 'Here take this. This is all I have.'"
Michael Haddad stressed his donation campaign is not about gun rights, although he believes his brother would make a great spokesman on the subject.
"I always tell him he is the poster man for gun rights," he said. "If you wanted someone to stand up and shoulder the weight, he's the guy."