PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A judge agreed to release Internet radio host Pete Santilli pending trial on charges related to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But separate charges against Santilli in Nevada make that release nothing more than a legal exercise with no real world effect.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Monday agreed to release Santilli to a halfway house in Portland, provided he submits to a mental evaluation and wears a GPS monitor. But on Tuesday afternoon, the government made clear at a hearing with Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman that Santilli isn't likely to lose his leg shackles anytime soon.
In addition to a superseding indictment expected soon announcing a slew of new charges against Santilli, Ammon and Ryan Bundy and the other 23 defendants in the Malheur Refuge case, Santilli, the Bundy brothers, their father and Montana electrician and militia member Ryan Payne face charges of leading an armed assault at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch in 2014 that endangered the lives of 50 federal officers.
Federal prosecutors say Santilli used his conservative radio show to recruit militants for the 2014 standoff - and the government says he told them to bring their guns.
Brown's order to release Santilli triggered the hold placed by federal prosecutors in Nevada, according to U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight.
Now, Knight said, it was simply a question of when Santilli would get to Las Vegas, where he has an arraignment hearing scheduled for March 17.
"If he is released now, he will go to Nevada," Knight said. "If not, he will still go to Nevada."
Deborah Jordan, Santilli's girlfriend and the co-host of his YouTube show, "The Pete Santilli Show," said she had mixed feelings about the judge's order.
"We're very happy to finally have someone decide in Pete's favor," Jordan told Courthouse News. "But the minute they release him, Nevada wants him. So we've got a long road ahead of us."