PORTLAND, Ore. – Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who came to Oregon to assist the armed occupation of a national wildlife preserve directed by his sons, will stay in jail pending trial after prosecutors labeled him “lawless and violent.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart stated Tuesday that Bundy should not be released ahead of trial due to the fact there is a possibility he won’t show up for future court dates. “If he is released and he goes back to his ranch, that is likely the last the government will see of him,” Stewart stated.
Bundy, 69, was arrested in Portland last week on charges arising from a 2014 armed standoff with federal officials who were rounding up his livestock over unpaid grazing fees.
He came to Oregon to assist a weeks long occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, started Jan. 2 to request the federal government turn over public lands to local management
His sons were detained Jan. 26 and continue to be in jail, but 4 holdouts prolonged the occupation until Thursday, when they surrendered.
The elder Bundy was not accused in connection with the Oregon occupation. All his charges originate from the 2014 Nevada standoff: conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, obstruction, weapon use and possession, extortion to interfere with commerce, and aiding and abetting.
Bundy’s lawyer, Noel Grefenson, stated his client could not be a risk if authorities waited to charge him for 22 months. The judge ignored that argument and set his next hearing for Friday.
Bundy stated absolutely nothing in court. He sat for much of the short hearing with his arms folded across his chest, from time to time swiveling in his chair to look sternly at viewers in a courtroom filled to capacity.
A family member explained the patriarch isn’t dangerous or a criminal and should be released to his home.
“Cliven believes in the proper role of government and proper jurisdiction. Where’s the jurisdiction?” daughter-in-law Briana Bundy shared with The Associated Press by phone from Bunkerville, Nevada.
“He’s not a flight risk. This is his home. This is where his livelihood is,” she stated.
Cliven Bundy is charged of unlawfully directing more than 200 followers to stop federal agents and contract cowboys who were attempting to implement a court order to round up about 400 of his cattle 2 years ago.
“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,” based on a 34-page document filed by prosecutors Tuesday.
RICK BOWMER/AP, KEITH RIDLER/AP
They labeled him “lawless and violent” and claim that Bundy and his followers set up traffic checkpoints on public roads and followed and intimidated federal officials attempting to conduct plant surveys.
Neither the Constitution nor any other law “gives anyone the right to use or carry, let alone brandish, raise or point, a firearm” at federal law enforcers performing official duties, “whether one believes the officer is acting constitutionally or not,” prosecutors submitted.
To diffuse the standoff, the government released the cows.
Federal authorities have stated Bundy owes more than $1 million in fees and penalties for having cows graze illegally for decades on public land close to his ranch.
If found guilty of all 6 charges, he could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.