SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The first man indicted in 11 months for failing to register for the draft says he was singled out among thousands because he is active in the peace movement.
Andy Mager, 23, originally from Oyster Bay, N.Y., pleaded innocent at his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Edward Conan Wednesday and was released on his own recognizance.
If convicted, Mager could be sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Mager's indictment Aug. 22 marked the first time in New York that a man has been charged with violating the draft-registration law signed in July 1980 by President Carter, Selective Service System spokesman Will Ebel said in Washington.
It was the 17th such case nationwide.
'It's very clear that all 17 people who have been indicted have been public about their refusal to register,' Mager said before his court appearance.
Mager, who has been arrested in anti-nuclear protests at Griffiss Air Force Base, said he sent a letter to the Selective Service criticizing its prosecution of Benjamin Sasway, the first person indicted for violating the 1980 draft-registration law.
That letter, he said, resulted in the Justice Department singling him out of thousands of other men who have not registered.
He said an assistant U.S. attorney's contention that he was randomly selected for prosecution is 'just not true.' It has been 11 months since the last person was indicted for failing to register for the draft, he said.
Ebel said the last man indicted for failing to register was Stephen Schlossberg, of Minneapolis, Minn., who was arraigned Oct. 4, 1983. He pleaded not guilty and a magistrate indicated he would not rule on the issue until after the Supreme Court rules on a pending draft registration case.
The law, which requires men to sign up when they turn 18, immediately affected men under age 26 who were born during or after 1960.
Registering for military service would be a 'violation of conscience,' said Mager, who added he would rather go to jail.
Before the arraignment, supporters of Mager gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Syracuse, carrying signs that read, 'Support Your Local Draft Resister' and 'Don't Let Them Take Your Son.'