A former U.S. Marine from Southern California could face up to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of illegal possession of a chrome-plated AK-47 machine gun that authorities say he smuggled back from a tour of duty in Iraq and may have belonged to Saddam Hussein’s guards.
A federal jury in Riverside on Friday found Joel Cleve Miller, 40, of Twentynine Palms, guilty of one gun charge but acquitted him of two others involving another weapon, according to Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Merrill.
Miller’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court in Riverside.
Miller was an active member of the Marine Corps for more than 20 years, reaching the rank of staff sergeant, before being discharged in December 2011 for approving false travel claims and stealing from the federal government, prosecutors said. His weapon possession conviction is part of a wider probe into gun smuggling from Iraq that previously led to a guilty plea from another former Marine and may lead to other cases, according to Merrill.