Sunday, September 24, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Sunday, September 24, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bundy & Crew Charged in 2014 Showdown

(CN) - Cliven Bundy and his crew will return to Nevada to face charges of leading an armed assault at Cliven Bundy's Bunkerville ranch in 2014 that endangered the lives of 50 federal officers.

Brothers Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy, conservative radio host Pete Santilli and Montana electrician and militia member Ryan Payne were also named in the indictment. It's not yet clear whether those four defendants will travel back and forth between Nevada and Oregon, where they face federal conspiracy charges for their roles in the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Cliven Bundy has not yet been scheduled for arraignment, although earlier this week a federal judge in Oregon judge ordered him held until trial. But Payne, Santilli and Bundy's two sons will have arraignment hearings on March 17 in Las Vegas. The four men also have arraignment hearings in Portland, on the Malheur charges, on Feb. 24.

The Nevada indictment lays out the incident at Cliven Bundy's Bunkerville, Nevada ranch - where the government says he and the other defendants organized more than 400 supporters into a violent, gun-toting mob that trapped about 50 federal officers in a low streambed and kept them from seizing the cattle that Bundy had illegally grazed on public land for 20 years.

Cliven Bundy rallied the group on the morning of the April 12, 2014 standoff, telling them, "God is going to be with us, it's time to take our land back," before commanding them to get his cattle back from the feds, according to the indictment.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy acted as generals during the assault, organizing followers on horseback, directing others who carried assault rifles and wore tactical gear to camouflage themselves among unarmed members of the crowd and negotiating the surrender of the federal officers, the indictment states.

Payne recruited and organized followers and Santilli put out the call via his Internet talk show for people to bring their guns and join the fight, the government says.

Santilli also told officers that he was acting as an intermediary between the militants and the feds, according to the indictment. That claim echoes the circumstances of Santilli's Jan. 26 arrest in Burns, Oregon during the final days of the month-long wildlife refuge occupation.

By that time, the main leaders of the occupation had been arrested, LaVoy Finicum had been killed and the FBI had established a perimeter around the refuge with no one allowed in.

At Santilli's detention hearing, his lawyer Thomas Coan played video footage of the arrest. In the video, the FBI arrested Santilli when he offered to enter the refuge and negotiate the release of the women and children holed up there.

The indictment charges the five defendants with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, use of a gun in a crime of violence, assault of a federal officer, threatening a federal officer, obstruction of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and interstate travel in the aid of extortion.

Each of the 16 charges carries a minimum sentence of between five and 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

"The rule of law has been reaffirmed with these charges," Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden said. "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."

Follow @@karinapdx
Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.