LAS VEGAS (CN) — Federal prosecutors didn’t make any of 40 charges stick against four defendants charged in the armed standoff with federal agents who tried to round up Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle in 2014.
A federal jury late Tuesday returned found Richard Lovelien and Steven Stewart innocent of all 10 charges against each of them.
The charges included conspiracy, extortion, assaulting federal officers, brandishing firearms, extortion and interfering with interstate commerce.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for four days. It found Idaho resident Eric Parker, 34, not guilty of six charges, and hung on four counts, including brandishing a firearm and assaulting a federal officer.
The jury found Idaho resident O. Scott Drexler, 46, not guilty of eight charges, and hung on two charges.
Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre said he was “disappointed” by the verdict and had not decided whether to retry Drexler and Parker.
The four men were charged for trying to help Bundy stop the Bureau of Land Management from rounding up cattle Bundy had grazed on federal land for years without paying grazing fees.
The armed standoff came on April 12, 2014, as hundreds of Bundy supporters stood off the BLM at a wash along I-15 about 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The BLM stopped the roundup and released about 400 head of Bundy’s cattle. It says Bundy owes $3 million in unpaid grazing fees over the past 20 years.
Bundy and his supporters claim the federal government has no right to control federal land.
After the jury rendered its verdict Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro immediately freed Lovelien and Stewart.
On Wednesday, Navarro ordered conditional releases for Parker and Drexler. They can stay with their families in Idaho and work their respective jobs pending their trial on gun-related charges on Sept. 25.
As of now, Cliven Bundy’s trial, as well as the trial of the other remaining defendants, will not start until the third trial of Parker and Drexler concludes. Navarro said that would change if Drexler and Parker waive their speedy-trial rights.
Drexler’s attorney, Todd Leventhal, said Drexler will insist on a speedy trial after being jailed for a year and a half already.
Thus far, no jury has been able to agree on whether the men used firearms to threaten federal law enforcement or BLM officials, as the government contends. They were acquitted on all other charges.
Bundy, two of his sons and two others are to go to trial in about 30 days. Another five co-defendants are to go on trial after Bundy’s trial concludes.
The remaining defendants face 15 federal charges, including conspiracy, extortion, assault and brandishing firearms.
Each could be sentenced to 80 years of prison; Bundy also faces a $3 million fine.
A jury on April 24 found Gregory Burleson, of Phoenix, guilty of eight counts and convicted Todd Engel, of Idaho, of two counts.
Navarro in July sentenced Burleson, 53, to more than 68 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release.
Engel awaits sentencing.
Two other defendants have pleaded guilty.
Navarro in May sentenced New Hampshire resident Gerald DeLemus, 62, to 87 months in prison.
Blaine Cooper, 38, of Humboldt, Arizona, awaits sentencing.