Bundy Followers Get Misdemeanor Convictions

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Prosecutors scored another win Tuesday against four Ammon Bundy followers that evaded them in the first trial against the leaders of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Andrew Kohlmetz, attorney for defendant Jason Patrick, said he was not surprised when U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown found his client guilty of trespassing, tampering with vehicles and equipment and property destruction.

Brown also found Duane Ehmer, Darryl Thorn and Jake Ryan guilty of trespassing and tampering.

“Nobody harbored any illusions there,” Kohlmetz said outside the courtroom. “We all expected they would be found guilty.”

Brown’s rulings follow jury verdicts finding Patrick and Thorn guilty of the same felony conspiracy charges the government failed to prove against the leaders of the occupation, and finding Ehmer and Ryan guilty of other felonies. Patrick and Thorn face up to six years in prison on the felony conspiracy charges.

Occupation leader Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan and five other defendants were acquitted on all charges in October. Ammon Bundy is preparing for trial over a 2014 armed standoff with government agents at his father’s Bunkerville, Nevada ranch. He testified that he barely knew the four men in the second trial.

Asked whether misdemeanor charges against the leaders would have stuck, Kohlmetz answered with an unequivocal yes.

“We talked to the jury [in the first trial],” Kohlmetz said. “They were absolutely flabbergasted. They told us they wanted to convict. They would have convicted them on anything, just not that conspiracy charge.”

The Tuesday hearing had a second order of business: Prosecutors asked the judge to tighten the terms of Patrick’s pretrial release from jail, pending his May 10 sentencing hearing.

They said Patrick had been tough to contact. Brown acknowledged that the rules governing his pretrial release no longer apply.

“His status is different now that he has been found guilty than it was when he was presumed innocent,” Brown said.

Faced with nearly two months of GPS monitoring, Patrick opted for immediate incarceration. He emptied his pockets, told his mom he loved her and left the courtroom in handcuffs.

Kohlmetz said after the hearing that he expected the move. Patrick planned to bank some time served and avoid the fees he would have had to pay for his ankle bracelet, Kohlmetz said.

Standing with his supporters in the sunshine outside the courthouse, Ehmer said he was disappointed, but happy to be getting back to “normal life,” which for him includes a medieval jousting match this weekend.

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