Joseph O’Shaughnessy seeks to withdraw guilty plea in Oregon standoff case
12-12-16 : the Oregonian
Joseph O’Shaughnessy wants to withdraw his guilty plea to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the third defendant in the case to file a motion to rescind his plea.
O’Shaughnessy entered the plea Aug. 1 in U.S. District Court in Portland and was transferred later to Nevada, where he was expected to accept a plea offer there to federal charges in the 2014 standoff outside Cliven Bundy’s ranch.
O’Shaughnessy, in a motion filed Sunday by a new defense lawyer appointed to represent him, argues that because the plea deal in the Nevada case fell through, he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in the Oregon case. His plea deal in Nevada was contingent on him pleading guilty in Oregon.
“The Nevada resolution has broken apart. Mr. O’Shaughnessy plans to proceed to trial,” wrote the defense attorney, Tony Schwartz.
When O’Shaughnessy, 44, of Cottonwood, Arizona, entered his guilty plea in Oregon, he said he didn’t participate in the occupation of the wildlife refuge, but admitted he provided security for those at the refuge because he supported their message.
In the new filing, O’Shaughnessy argued that prosecutors shared evidence from cooperating witnesses in the refuge case with defense lawyers after he had entered his plea.
He also cited the outing of a federal informant during the recent trial of refuge takeover leader Ammon Bundy and six other defendants. The informant went by the name of “John Killman” but revealed his real name on the witness stand: Fabio Minoggio.
“This informant provided two reports specifically discussing Mr. O’Shaughnessy, including a damaging claim that the medical tent set up at The Narrows RV Park by Mr. O’Shaughnessy was, in fact, a ‘surprise attack tent,’ an allegation highly contested by the defense,” O’Shaughnessy’s motion said. “The government failed, however, to disclose prior to trial that this informant was compensated for his assistance. ”
O’Shaugnessy further argued that he wasn’t fully aware of all the evidence in the Nevada case when he accepted prosecutors’ proposed resolution of both cases.
His initial defense lawyer, Amy Baggio, recently withdraw from his case, and now O’Shaughnessy is also arguing that he had “ineffective counsel.”
The Nevada indictment described O’Shaughnessy as a “mid-level” leader who helped “organize the gunmen” who confronted agents from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management who were trying to impound Cliven Bundy’s cattle. It also accused O’Shaughnessy of organizing armed patrols, security checkpoints and protection for members of the alleged criminal conspiracy in Nevada.
He’s charged with more serious offenses in Nevada, including conspiracy to impede federal officers, assault on federal officers, threatening federal officers, using and carrying a firearm in a crime of violence.
O’Shaughnessy joins co-defendants Ryan Payne and Eric Flores in seeking to withdraw their pleas in Oregon. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown hasn’t scheduled hearings on their motions yet.
In response to Payne’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel has pointed out that the government provided defense lawyers with redacted reports on the FBI’s confidential sources in June and July. The reports were redacted to avoid identifying the informants.
Gabriel also argued that the recent acquittals of the seven who went to trial in the Oregon standoff case shouldn’t be a factor in whether Payne or others can rescind their guilty pleas.
A grand jury indicted 26 people on a federal conspiracy charge in the armed refuge occupation. Eleven defendants pleaded guilty. Seven others, including leaders Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox, were acquitted of all charges after a five-week trial that ended with the verdicts read on Oct. 27. Charges are pending against seven others.
Prosecutors are expected to alert the court later Monday how they plan to proceed against the remaining defendants.
— Maxine Bernstein
Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian/OregonLive