- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A military veteran who performed guard duty during the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon was sentenced Monday to six months of home detention.

Geoff Stanek, 27, of Lafayette, Oregon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in June 2016, three months before the high-profile trial in which occupation leader Ammon Bundy and six others were found not guilty. Stanek’s early acceptance of responsibility was one reason federal prosecutor Craig Gabriel recommended a sentence that did not include prison time.

Stanek was among the more than two dozen men and women who answered Bundy’s January 2016 call to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a protest against federal control of Western lands and the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires.

“You’re free to think what you choose, but your conduct crossed the line,” U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said Monday.

Another occupier, Eric Lee Flores, was scheduled to be sentenced Monday, but got mixed up on the date and never arrived from his home in Tulalip, Washington. Brown said the hearing will be rescheduled.

Stanek arrived at the refuge Jan. 7 after learning about the occupation through Facebook. He stayed until Jan. 26, the day Bundy and other occupation leaders were arrested in a traffic stop that included the fatal shooting by police of protest spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.

Though Gabriel described Stanek as one of the least culpable defendants, the judge noted that he arrived at the bird sanctuary with an AR-15, body armor and medic supplies.

“You were prepared for a bloodbath,” she said.

Stanek declined to make a statement when given a chance.

In response to questions from the judge, Stanek vowed to provide for his young daughter and not violate any conditions during a two-year term of probation. One requirement prohibits him going on federal land without permission from his probation officer.

A total of 14 people pleaded guilty to occupation-related charges and another four were convicted by a jury. Judge Brown plans a fall hearing to decide how to divvy up restitution.

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