Cliven Bundy with four other men, including two of his sons, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday with conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and obstruction of justice in connection with the armed standoff in 2014 on federal land near Bunkerville, Nevada. In total, there are 16 felony charges related to the armed standoff.
The standoff has been described as extremely tense in previous court filings: “Witnesses have described the level of threatened violence as so intense that something as innocent as the backfire of (a) vehicle, or someone lighting a firecracker, would have set off a firefight.”
In an effort to avoid violent confrontation, the government released the cows to Bundy and backed off at the time citing safety concerns.
Bundy is called the “leader, organizer and chief beneficiary” of the armed standoff, while the others charged are noted as those who worked to help him “achieve his criminal objectives.”
“This indictment sends a resounding message to those who wish to participate in violent acts that our resolve to pursue them and enforce the law remains unwavering,” Special Agent in Charge Laura Bucheit said in a news release.
“Persons who use force and violence against federal law enforcement officers who are enforcing court orders, and nearly causing catastrophic loss of life or injury to others, will be brought to justice,” U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in the statement, according to Reuters.
“Today marks a tremendous step toward ending more than 20 years of law breaking,” Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said. “The nation’s public lands belong to all Americans.”
“The Nevada indictment is no surprise,” Ammon Bundy’s attorney Mike Arnold said in response. “The complaint against Cliven named four co-conspirators in federal custody. And it’s important for the public to remember that there is a constitutional presumption of innocence in America. A government charge is proof of nothing. That’s what courts and juries are for.”
Clliven Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne and Peter Santilli are facing charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion, and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne and Peter Santilli are facing additional federal charges in connection with the month-long armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. The Oregon standoff ended up lasting for 41 days after four holdouts refused to end the occupation until finally surrendering.
Assault on a Federal Law Enforcement Officer carries a maximum of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. The same penalties apply for Interference with Interstate Commerce by Extortion.
The statement adds that if convicted, the defendants would also have to forfeit at least $3 million worth of property secured through the crimes.
Cliven Bundy was arrested at the airport when trying to join the militants in Oregon.
“We want freedom,” Bundy said in 2014.
The Nevada standoff was widely reported in the media. Fox News’ Sean Hannity hailed Bundy as a hero. How do you feel about that now, Mr. Hannity? As for Pete Santilli the ‘shock jock,’ his violent rhetoric after the first standoff might not work in his favor while facing charges.
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