An immigrant who has been in the U.S. with an expired student visa was convicted by a federal jury this month on charges of being an unlawful alien possessing firearms and ammo, the Justice Department said.
Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif, 25, will face up to 10 years in prison for the conviction and is scheduled to appear at a sentencing hearing on Aug. 26. He was convicted on May 18.
Federal agents arrested Rehaif, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, in December at a hotel in Melbourne, Florida. According to the complaint, Rehaif had been staying in a Hilton hotel for 53 nights, checking out every morning and then checking back into a different room.
Local authorities responded to a tip on Dec. 8 about suspicious activity at the hotel. Rehaif spent over $11,000 in room fees, recently claimed to have weapons in his room, and for some unknown reason gave a hotel employee three rounds of .380 ammo and one .45-caliber round.
Later that day, federal agents confronted Rehaif and interviewed him. Agents learned that Rehaif was admitted into the U.S. in 2013 under a student visa. He had been enrolled at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, but was terminated as a student in the fall of 2014.
The Justice Department said when Rehaif failed to leave the country within 30 days of his termination as a student, he became an unlawful alien.
Also during the interview, Rehaif told agents that he had ammunition in his room. They recovered one box of 9mm ammunition, which contained 28 rounds.
He also told them that he had ammo in a storage facility, but when agents looked into the claim, they found that Rehaif’s goods were moved by the facility into a different unit because of lack of payment. However, agents did recover 11 rounds of .223, and 173 rounds of 9mm.
Rehaif told agents that he had been shooting at shooting ranges and owned three guns, which he bought from three different people and later sold.
He said he owned a Cobra .380, a Hi-Point 9mm, and a third, which he couldn’t remember the brand, the complaint says. Rehaif told agents that he sold the Hi-Point to a pawn shop, gave the Cobra to his girlfriend along with the one he couldn’t remember. Also, he said he bought a hunting permit from Wal-Mart on Oct. 26.
Agents dug into Rehaif’s claims and learned he had visited a shooting range, Frogbones in Melbourne, as far back as Oct. 26 and as recent as Dec. 2. The investigation revealed that the ammo in his room was left over from his December trip, in which he rented a 9mm Glock pistol.