(Dreamstime/TNS) Credit: Dreamstime | TNS

An Augusta man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Bangor to possessing an unregistered silencer.

Ryan D. Merrill, 39, was using a .22-caliber rifle to fire at a fox and small propane tanks behind his home in Augusta on July 17, 2018, when his neighbors reported the gun shots, according to the Kennebec Journal.

Police later found that Merrill had fashioned a vehicle’s oil filter to the muzzle of his rifle to create a silencer and soften his gunshots, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank.

Merrill had not registered the silencer with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, despite knowing that it is a federal offense not to do so, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. The case was being investigated as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods by the Augusta Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Merrill was indicted in October 2018, and he could face a fine up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison. He has not received a sentence yet.