Scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy’s twenty-year criminal career is over at last.
Yesterday, a federal grand jury in Nevada indicted Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, ‘security chief’ Ryan Payne, and crackpot webcaster Pete Santilli on charges related to their 2014 armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management.
The full charges include: conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States; conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer; using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence; assault on a federal officer; threatening a federal law enforcement officer; obstruction of the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion; and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
The indictment is embedded below. Conviction on all counts could mean 96 years in sentences and $1.75 million in fines.
As reported by Las Vegans news station KATU, Bundy is named as the “leader, organizer and chief beneficiary” of a conspiracy to avoid paying grazing fees for his use of public land to graze cattle.
“This indictment sends a resounding message to those who wish to participate in violent acts that our resolve to pursue them and enforce the law remains unwavering,” Special Agent in Charge Laura Bucheit said in a news release.
[…] “Today marks a tremendous step toward ending more than 20 years of law breaking,” Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said. “The nation’s public lands belong to all Americans.”
Fueled by the arrival of so-called ‘patriot’ militia groups, the tense confrontation nearly led to a shootout until BLM agents stopped rounding up Bundy’s cattle in order to avoid a bloodbath.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy were arrested with Ryan Payne during a traffic stop in January during their armed occupation of a bird sanctuary. LaVoy Finicum, a Bundy family friend and ally who had vowed not to be taken alive, chose to try escaping the roadblock and then committed suicide-by-cop, reaching for a handgun and forcing an Oregon State Police officer to shoot him.
Pete Santilli was arrested by FBI agents a few hours later in Burns, OR as he attempted to make his way through a cordon outside the local hospital.
A disgruntled veteran who had gravitated towards fringe ‘sovereign citizen’ views, Ryan Payne claimed that it was legal to kill police who are “unlawfully” trying to arrest him.
Cliven Bundy was arrested on February 10th as he exited a plane at Portland International Airport on his way to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which his sons had occupied for four weeks before their arrests.
Bereft of their leadership, the final four holdouts surrendered to federal agents the next day.