Three years before the impoundment of Cliven Bundy’s cattle turned into an armed confrontation between anti-government groups and federal agents, the FBI made an assessment that the Nevada rancher personally was unlikely to be violent in the event of conflict. The agency suggested a novel solution to Bundy’s 20 years of unpaid bills, one designed to put the dispute to rest: drop the fines he owed altogether.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Va., determined in 2011 that the rancher was unlikely to comply with federal court orders to move his 900 animals off federal land, where they had been illegally grazing, because “he only has enough land to handle less than 100 head of cattle.” Though the Bureau of Land Management was concerned that allowing Bundy to avoid paying federal grazing fees and fines could lead to violence, the FBI thought otherwise.
“BLM may wish to consider waiving the existing fines, as a gesture of willingness to participate in discussions geared toward negotiations,” the FBI wrote in the classified analysis, obtained by The Washington Post. The unit concluded that any alternatives the government could offer Bundy might reduce the rancher’s stress and “in turn, reduce the risk of a violent act.”
The FBI has not designated the Proud Boys, whose members routinely appear at right-wing protests in downtown Portland, as an extremist group, Oregon’s top FBI agent said Tuesday.
The FBI never intended to do so when it briefed Clark County law enforcement leaders recently about regional threats, Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon said during a wide-ranging meeting with media at the bureau’s Portland headquarters.
His comments directly counter an internal Clark County Sheriff’s Office memo that suggested otherwise and drew national attention.
In the FBI’s slide show in Clark County, agents talked about the Proud Boys, white supremacists, militia groups and anarchists, Cannon said.
Started in 2016 by conservative writer Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys have billed themselves as “pro-Western fraternal organization” and have vigorously fought accusations by critics that members are associated with white nationalists.
collection of updates about today’s happening in the Portland Federal Courthouse.
A federal judge Monday threw out two of the five charges against an FBI agent accused of covering up that he fired two rifle shots at the truck of Oregon refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum at a roadblock in January 2016.
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones struck one count of making a false statement and one count of obstruction of justice against W. Joseph Astarita.
The agent still faces three charges a week before his trial is scheduled to start: two other counts of making a false statement and one other count of obstruction of justice.
The disputed gunshots came as Finicum emerged from his pickup as police moved in to arrest the leaders of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon.
BURNS — Three-and-a-half hours after pardoned Oregon rancher Dwight Hammond Jr. arrived home, he gathered with his wife and sons around his dining room’s large circular table and got back to business.
They hooked him into a live feed of an auction in Nevada where Hammond Ranch Inc.’s 155 calves were on the block.
Hammond could have called in to participate in the annual sale but he held back, not wanting to jerk the reins from his daughter-in-law and others who have run the family’s cattle ranch while he and his son Steven served arson sentences in federal prison.
“We’ve had to trust them. No use to question their judgment now,” the 76-year-old said later, sitting in his living room, back in his trademark Wrangler jeans, brown cowboy boots and a blue button-down shirt that matched his eyes.
An Oregon state police trooper at the scene of the Jan. 26, 2016 shooting of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum told investigators that he believed another state police officer fired the shot that struck the roof of Finicum’ struck, and not an FBI agent, according to court records filed Thursday.
Yet prosecutors are asking a judge to prevent the trooper from sharing his opinion at the trial of indicted FBI Agent W. Joseph Astarita, arguing that it’s not supported by facts and based largely on speculation.
Astarita is accused of denying that he fired two shots as Finicum emerged from his pickup truck at the police roadblock on the day the FBI and state police moved in to arrest leaders of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. One shot hit the roof of Finicum’s truck and a second missed entirely, investigators said.
Ammon Bundy has called to the jurors of the Bunkerville Trial to view the hidden evidence in the case.
It has been well documented that the prosecution team, led by Steven Myhre, kept vital information from the jurors, as well as Judge Navarro.
Navarro, in December 2017, declared a mistrial in the case against Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne. She specifically cited several instances of “Brady violations” from the prosecution, evidence that was not turned over to the defense which could have benefited their case.
An example of the hidden information is the knowledge of government snipers overlooking the Bundy house during the days and weeks leading up to the Bunkerville standoff in 2014.
Prosecutors don’t have to share investigative records on three earlier shootings by a veteran Oregon State Police officer in the case of an indicted FBI agent, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones made that ruling Monday afternoon after a meeting in his chambers with prosecutors and defense lawyers who are preparing for FBI Agent W. Joseph Astarita’s July 24 trial.
Astarita is accused of denying that he fired two shots as Oregon occupation spokesman Robert “Lavoy” Finicum emerged from his pickup truck at a police roadblock on Jan. 26, 2016, in Harney County. That was the day the FBI and state police arrested leaders of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
One shot hit the roof of Finicum’s truck and a second missed entirely, investigators said.
Astarita, a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of making a false statement and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Lawyers for an indicted FBI agent suggest in court papers that one of the state troopers who shot and killed Oregon refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum may have fired the two earlier shots at Finicum as he emerged from his truck at a police roadblock.
The trooper, a member of the state police SWAT team identified in court papers only as “Officer 1,” was involved in at least two unrelated fatal shootings of civilians before the Finicum encounter, according to lawyers for FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita.
The government has refused to provide documents to the defense about those past shootings despite repeated requests, the agent’s lawyers said. Astarita’s lawyers are now asking a judge to compel the prosecution team to release the material.
“Such evidence could potentially reveal a pattern of behavior that might shed light on what Officer 1 did on January 26, 2016, and why he may not have been truthful about that conduct in the days and weeks that followed,” defense lawyer Tyler Francis wrote in a motion filed this week in U.S. District Court in Portland.
The motion reveals a theory of Astarita’s defense lawyers intended to cast doubt on the prosecution’s contention that the FBI agent fired at Finicum and then lied about it. One of the bullets hit the roof of Finicum’s truck and the other went astray.
Defense lawyers argued Friday that the government’s reconstruction of an FBI agent’s alleged shots at Oregon occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum isn’t based on sound forensic methods.
“They come in and present this evidence as if it’s precise. It’s just not so,” said Robert Cary, a well-known Washington, D.C.-based defense lawyer for indicted agent W. Joseph Astarita. “It’s presented as science and it’s way dangerous.”
Prosecutors countered that they relied on multiple experts who used independent state-of-the-art forensic methods and all placed Astarita as the only one who could have fired the shot that struck the roof of Finicum’s truck on Jan. 26, 2016.
The closing arguments came after four days of testimony in a pretrial hearing to determine which experts’ work can be presented at Astarita’s July 24 trial. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones said he’d issue a written ruling in two weeks.
DISMISSAL IS CONSIDERED an extreme remedy for prosecutor misconduct. Judges often declare a mistrial but let the indictments stand, thus allowing prosecutors the option of taking the case before another grand jury.
As Myhre noted in his brief, the Chapman case seems to be the only ruling in which the 9th Circuit has ever upheld outright dismissal of indictments due to prosecutorial misconduct. And Navarro found plenty of similarities when comparing Damm’s misconduct in Chapman to Myhre’s actions in the Bundy trial.
As in Chapman, Myhre and his office failed to turn over hundreds of pages of evidence, particularly FBI reports, logs, maps, and threat assessments, Navarro found. And, like Damm, Myhre and his office made “several misrepresentations” to the defense and the court, both about the existence of certain evidence and its importance, she ruled.
In one instance, Navarro said, the prosecution made “a deliberate attempt to mislead and to obscure the truth.” At the mistrial hearing in December, she criticized Myhre for calling an internal affairs report about one of the Bundy investigators an “urban legend.” When the report surfaced, Myhre told the court his “urban legend” comment was “based on the government’s inability to verify its existence, let alone find it,” and not an attempt to deceive.
After a stormy year, the long tenure of Steven Myhre as the No. 2 prosecutor in the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office has ended under secrecy.
Within the past month, Myhre left his job as first assistant to Interim U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson and took on new duties in the office as a senior litigation counsel, several former federal prosecutors who have spoken with office members told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
His new position comes with no supervisory responsibilities, but allows him to mentor and train younger attorneys, according to a Justice Department manual.
Last May, Myhre, who spent about 15 years as first assistant in the office, was ordered to undergo anti-sex discrimination training as a result of a federal case filed by a female prosecutor during the tenure of former U.S. Attorney Greg Brower in 2008 and 2009.
Today, Attorney Morgan Philpot, representing Jeanette Finicum, widow of Lavoy Finicum Shot and Killed at blind curve roadblock by Oregon State Police and FBI agents on January 26th, 2016, filed the attached Civil Demand for a Jury Trial in Oregon Federal District Court.
Lavoy was driving his truck with passengers Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Victoria Sharp and Ryan Payne, to a meeting with Sherrif Glenn Palmer in John Day. The murder and arrests marked the beginning of the end to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County Oregon.
Federal Judge, Gloria Navarro’s dismissal of the Bundy Ranch trial last December was attributed in large part to explosive revelations of misconduct, and ethical and legal violations in a letter written by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agent Larry ‘Clint’ Wooten, to Deputy Attorney General Andrew D. Goldsmith, the National Criminal Discovery Coordinator. The descriptions of unprofessionalism, sexism, and conspiratorial motives in the letter were so shocking that they tanked the federal prosecution’s case. The 18-page letter also contains damning accounts of unconscionable behavior and acts perpetrated by BLM Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Dan Love, which have been largely overlooked by media.
“Cliven Bundy was accused of conspiracy against the government,” reported the Western Livestock Journal in a January 8 article on the Bundy ruling. “Instead,” it noted, “the Bundy trial showed it was the government that was conspiring against him.” That charge does not exaggerate in the least the gravity of the government’s wrongdoing in the case.
During her ruling of a mistrial on December 20, Judge Navarro spent nearly 45 minutes reading from the bench, details of the federal misconduct, that she found to be so outrageous and flagrant. A central component of that misconduct concerned the government’s willful withholding of thousands of pages of evidence that supported the Bundys’ defense, and to which the defendants were legally entitled.
A half-inch piece of metal lodged in the shoulder of Oregon refuge occupier Ryan Bundy could become central to the federal government’s prosecution of an FBI agent accused of lying about firing two shots as police tried to arrest the 2016 takeover’s leaders.
When Bundy was arrested along U.S. 395, emergency medics found him bleeding and wrapped his wound in a dressing.
He was taken to Harney District Hospital, where an X-ray revealed a metal fragment next to his right shoulder bone, presumably from a gunshot.
“There’s a bullet in there,” Ryan Bundy told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “I can see what it is. It’s shaped like a bullet.”
Though the most recent trial of four defendants in the April 2014 standoff between armed protesters and Bureau of Land Management agents trying to confiscate Cliven Bundy’s cattle ended in a mistrial, the case will stand as a historic example of how sweeping secrecy can cast doubt on whether justice is being served.
This past week U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro halted testimony in the trial and sent the jurors home while she heard arguments behind closed doors over whether the prosecution had failed to provide the defense with potentially exculpatory evidence quickly enough. The judge said the prosecution’s repeated failure to timely disclose information was “sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome of the trial,” which she said could result in a mistrial. This week she declared a mistrial.
Attorney Maggie McLetchie — representing the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper and Battle Born Media, which publishes weekly newspapers in Mesquite, Ely, Eureka, Sparks and Lincoln and Mineral counties — promptly filed a motion seeking to intervene, which was granted. The newspapers are asking that all documents previously filed under seal be unsealed and that future hearings be conducted in open court.
The lead prosecutor in the Nevada standoff case against Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a fourth alleged ringleader told a jury in his opening statement last month that the case centered on the need to respect the rule of law.
Five weeks later, it was the prosecution team’s abuse of the rule of law that sunk the case, leading to a judge’s declaration Wednesday of a mistrial.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro methodically listed the prosecution’s six separate violations of the Brady law, which requires turning over evidence potentially favorable to the defense. The judge further ruled that each violation was willful.
If ever there was a time when federal prosecutors needed to make sure they acted with complete integrity it was in the high-stakes Bundy case, legal observers say. The defendants already held a deep suspicion of the government and had successfully rallied followers to their cause.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped into the Bundy prosecution after Wednesday’s mistrial, ordering a third-party examination of the case in light of the latest government snafu.
“The attorney general takes this issue very seriously and has personally directed that an expert in the [Justice Department’s] discovery obligations be deployed to examine the case and advise as to the next steps,” said Ian D. Prior, the department’s principal deputy director of public affairs, in a late Wednesday statement.
The decision to intervene came after Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial over the government’s “willful failure to disclose information” to the defense, saying it would have been “impossible” for the four co-defendants to receive a fair trial.
In identifying the Misdeeds of Government, it requires a diligent search of available information. However, often that research produces some interesting results. That is the situation with this article, since it begins with events surrounding the arrest of Dave Bundy (The Bundy Affair – #12 – Dave Bundy’s Two Citations), on April 6, 2014, and ends with the declaration of Mistrial on Decembers 20, 2017. However, in that span of time, over three and a half years, the following events played out.
Dave Bundy was pulled over on Nevada State Highway 170, a road that goes from Interstate 15, near the road to the Bundy Ranch, to Bunkerville. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had attempted to close the highway.
Dave got into a dispute with the BLM and was arrested and charged with two citations (explained in the linked article above). It is this arrest that begins this series of events. First, we have, from the National Park Service “DIRECTOR’S ORDER #9: LAW ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM”, which, on page 2, explains when and where arrests may be made.
Prosecutors shared it last week with defense lawyers for Bundy, his two sons and co-defendant Ryan Payne as they were in the midst of their conspiracy trial, but it’s not part of the public court record.
The memo prompted Cliven Bundy’s lawyer to file a motion early Monday to dismiss the case, already in disarray over concerns raised previously about the government’s failure to promptly share evidence with the defense.
The judge sent the jury home for more than a week as she tries to sort out the claims and prosecutors scramble to save their case.
The memo comes from Larry Wooten, who had been the lead case agent and investigator for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after the tense confrontation outside the patriarch’s ranch near Bunkerville. Wooten also testified before a federal grand jury that returned indictments against the Bundys. He said he was removed from the investigation last February after he complained to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada.
Two days after federal judge suggested the possibility of a mistrial in the Bunkerville standoff case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a group of Nevada newspapers asked to unseal trial documents discussed behind closed courtroom doors.
‘There is insufficient basis to maintain certain motions and transcripts under seal in this case and to continue to close hearings to the public,” the motion filed Wednesday evening states. “Sealing documents and closing hearings is inimical to this Country’s and this Court’s long tradition of open trials, guaranteed by both the First Amendment and common law — a right of access that is always important, but particularly critical in this case.”
The Bundy trial continues into its next phase in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cliven Bundy, with sons Ryan and Ammon, and their co-defendant Ryan Payne, face felony charges that could result in over 100 years in prison for each.
Directly after opening statements, the prosecution “opened” its case against the Bundy’s and Payne. The prosecution will be in charge of much of the narrative in the next month or two until they “rest” their case. They will be calling the witnesses who are most favorable to the governments theory; usually government employees of the BLM, FBI and other law enforcement agencies. The defendants will be allowed to cross-examine the governments witnesses. The Bundy’s and Payne will have their turn to “open” their case after the government has “rested” theirs.
LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors in the Bundy trial must provide information by noon Saturday on all armed federal officers who did surveillance outside the Bundy ranch and any cameras capturing images of the Bundy home between March 1 and April 12, 2014, a judge ordered Wednesday.
The information must be turned over to the defense.
It could help Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne challenge the allegation that they used “deceit and deception” to encourage supporters to come to the ranch by saying the house was surrounded, federal snipers were outside the home and the family felt isolated.
Defense lawyers said they learned for the first time on Tuesday of two federal officers dressed in camouflage and armed with AR-15 rifles posted outside the Bundy residence at night.
That information was contained in a written report that they received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in preparation for Wednesday’s hearing on disputed discovery evidence.
“Wouldn’t it be important for the defense to know FBI agents are overlooking the Bundy residence with an AR-15?” asked Brenda Weksler, one of Payne’s defense lawyers. “How do we not have this until yesterday?”