A North Little Rock man, indicted on federal machine gun charges in 2020 along with Louis Rockefeller, the son of the late Arkansas Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, was ordered to serve 18 months in federal prison and pay a $2,000 fine.
Noah Michael Millea, 20, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of transfer of a machine gun in connection with the delivery of a "Glock switch" to an undercover agent Rockefeller had sold the switch to and two drop-in auto sears that were included in the sale of two .223 caliber semi-auto rifles Rockefeller was selling.
Rockefeller was sentenced to 57 months in prison in March.
Glock switches and auto-sears are devices that convert semi-automatic weapons to full automatic and are designed to fit Glock pistols and AR-15-style rifles. They are classified as machine guns under federal law.
In January, Millea pleaded guilty to one count of transfer of a machine gun in exchange for the dismissal of the other counts against him.
In court Wednesday, Millea's attorney, Jason Daniel Files of Little Rock, asked U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky to consider home detention or some other punishment as an alternative to prison, pointing out that Millea had not received more than tangential compensation for his role in the offense. Files said when Millea became acquainted with Rockefeller, now 26, their age disparity was one factor in the younger man falling under Rockefeller's influence.
"He had just turned 19 at the time the offense was committed, and he was 18 when he became involved in Mr. Rockefeller's circle," Files said. "There's a world of difference between 18 and 23."
Files also pointed to the prominence of the Rockefeller family.
"In this case, it's not just any 23-year-old, it's the scion of the Rockefeller clan," he said, "So we have an age disparity, we have a wealth disparity, Rockefeller has access to all the things that sound great to a young man in Arkansas -- money, fame, guns, drugs -- it was a perfect storm to entice a young man and lead him astray. I don't know many folks who would be totally immune to that."
The defendant's father, David Millea, whom Millea has been living with in Dallas, said his son had been working and earning college credit since moving to Texas after the indictment.
"I'm not excusing what he did by any means, he messed up," David Millea said. "To know my son before all of this, you'd be totally taken aback to think we're sitting here today doing this. He's a straight-A student, always there to help everybody, a great kid. He just made some bad friends."
Files, continuing to argue for home confinement rather than a sentence within guideline sentencing range of 12 to 24 months in prison, said Millea was likely the first client he had ever represented "who has a true criminal history score of zero -- he does have a ticket for no seatbelt, that's it."
Files said Millea's actions were motivated more by hero worship than avarice, saying Millea was used by Rockefeller to deliver machine gun parts.
"Mr. Rockefeller was clearly using him. He would just happen to have left the auto-sears in Noah's car so that when he made the sale he wouldn't be in possession and he could call Noah to come deliver them," Files said. "He wasn't going to be the person to get caught."
At that point, Rudofsky broke in, asking Files if he was suggesting that Millea was unaware of the purpose of the items he delivered. Files clarified that he was arguing Rockefeller had a higher level of sophistication that Millea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon argued that the seriousness of the crime had to be considered, regardless of Millea's age, even as he acknowledged the difficulty the case presented.
"I look over there and see Mr. Millea and he's a kid," Gordon said. "He was 19 when he did this, he just turned 21 today or the day before. I mean, he's a kid."
Despite Millea's youth, his lack of criminal history or the influence Rockefeller may have had over him, evidence showed that he was fully culpable, Gordon argued. When the undercover officer told him he didn't know what to do with the Glock switch, Millea "explained it to him. He installed it in a matter of seconds," the federal prosecutor said.
"Was he being used by Rockefeller? Sure," Gordon said. "But he was also along for the ride. He knew exactly what he was doing."
Gordon said increased shootings in recent months have put guns and gun violence prominently in the news. He said Glock switches are a big part of the problem locally, often being evidenced in shootings around the city perpetrated by teenagers, many who he said have no prior criminal history.
"Just down the street you had an innocent, homeless man get killed because he got caught in the crossfire," he said. "Three blocks down the street. That's the environment that we're in."
Gordon said, because of that environment, the U.S. Attorney's office had adopted a policy of prosecuting every machine-gun case brought to it by law enforcement in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
"We want to make these things such a hot potato that no one wants to touch them," he said.
As Rudofsky settled on the 18-month sentence, he noted the factors in Millea's favor that called for a lighter sentence, but said the sentence would have to also take into consideration the seriousness of the offense.
"The offense you committed is an incredibly dangerous offense," he said to Millea. "Most people do not use automatic weapons unless they want to hurt someone ... This crime must be punished with prison time."