- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2017

A federal judge on Monday declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked on conspiracy counts against six men charged in the 2014 armed standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada’s Bundy ranching family.

The jury had reached guilty verdicts earlier Monday on lesser charges against two of the six defendants, but jurors declared themselves “hopelessly deadlocked” on federal conspiracy charges against the group.

Greg Burleson, 53, of Phoenix, and Todd Engel, 49, of Boundary County, Idaho, were found guilty of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of extortion stemming from the April 2014 clash over grazing rights on federal land.

Burleson, who was described as an ex-FBI informant and shown in a video saying he posed as a member of a bogus film crew during the standoff, was convicted on six other counts, including threatening and assaulting a federal officer.

U.S. District Chief Judge Gloria Navarro set another trial date after the jury reached an impasse for the second time Monday, several hours she sent them back with orders to continue deliberations at the Las Vegas courthouse.

This isn’t the first time the Bundy family and its supporters have thwarted federal prosecutors.

In October, an Oregon jury acquitted eight occupiers, including brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, on conspiracy charges from their takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a protest against federal land-management policies.

The Nevada trial was slated as the first of three involving a total of 17 defendants connected to the BLM standoff. No members of the Bundy family were part of the first group, which consisted of men identified by the court as low-level participants or “gunmen.”

The six men were tried at the same time on multiple offenses stemming from their involvement in blocking the BLM’s effort to impound more than 400 head of cattle from the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada.

Their new trial is slated to begin June 26, which was originally the start date for the next tier of defendants charged in the high-profile confrontation.

Rancher Cliven Bundy and his followers, who outnumbered the agents by 4-to-1, “demanded that officers leave and abandon the cattle and threatened use of force if the officers did not do so,” with some gunmen “taking sniper positions behind concrete barriers and aiming their assault rifles at the officers,” according to a court document.

The attempt to remove the cattle came after a 20-year legal battle stemming from Mr. Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees to the federal government, saying he did not recognize its authority and that he would pay the state instead.

No shots were fired during the standoff. In addition to Engel and Burleson, the six defendants in the first tier included Richard Lovelien, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler and Steven Stewart.

Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan, are slated to appear in the third tier of defendants, which is reserved for the confrontation’s leaders.

Chris Krupp, public lands guardian for WildEarth Guardians, applauded the jury’s initial guilty verdicts.

“There is at least some initial justice here, with one of the men convicted on the primary charges associated with using a gun to threaten and assault federal officials,” Mr. Krupp said Monday in a statement.

John Lamb, a Montana farmer and Bundy supporter who livestreamed the scene outside the Las Vegas courthouse, said before the mistrial that he thought the Justice Department’s case was weak.

“I don’t think there was a case here all along, that the government fabricated a bunch of stuff, and the jurors are proving it,” Mr. Lamb said on his Facebook page.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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