The Justice Department announced Thursday that a federal grand jury in Nevada has charged 14 additional defendants in connection with the armed assault against federal law enforcement officers that occurred in the Bunkerville, Nevada, area on April 12, 2014.
“Today’s actions make clear that we will not tolerate the use of threats or force against federal agents who are doing their jobs. We will continue to protect public land on behalf of the American people, uphold federal law, and ensure that those who employ violence to express their grievances with the government will be apprehended and held accountable for their crimes,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“Our democracy provides lawful ways individuals can respond if they disagree with their government, but if you resort to violence or threats, you will be held accountable under the law,” said FBI Director James Comey.
A superseding criminal indictment was returned by the grand jury on March 2 -- and now charges a total of 19 defendants.
The 14 new defendants are Melvin D. Bundy, 41, of Round Mountain, Nevada; David H. Bundy, 39, of Delta, Utah; Brian D. Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville; Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Arizona; Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, New Hampshire; Eric J. Parker, 32, of Hailey, Idaho; O. Scott Drexler, 44, of Challis, Idaho; Richard R. Lovelien, 52, of Westville, Oklahoma; Steven A. Stewart, 36, of Hailey; Todd C. Engel, 48, of Boundary County, Idaho; Gregory P. Burleson, 52, of Phoenix; Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Arizona; and Micah L. McGuire, 31, and Jason D. Woods, 30, both of Chandler, Arizona.
The newly-added defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, and at least one count of 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, according to a Department of Justice news release.
The indictment also alleges five counts of criminal forfeiture which upon conviction would require forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the crimes totaling at least $3 million, as well as the firearms and ammunition possessed and used on April 12, 2014, the release stated.
Twelve defendants were arrested Thursday. Two defendants, Cavalier and Cooper, were already in federal custody in the District of Oregon, officials said.
Charges against the original five defendants -- Cliven D. Bundy, 69, of Bunkerville; Ryan C. Bundy, 43, of Mesquite, Nevada; Ammon E. Bundy, 40, of Emmet, Idaho; Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana; and Peter T. Santilli Jr., 50, of Cincinnati -- remain the same.
The indictment alleges that the charges result from a massive armed assault against federal law enforcement officers that occurred in and around Bunkerville on April 12, 2014. “The defendants are alleged to have planned, organized and led the assault in order to extort the officers into abandoning approximately 400 head of cattle that were in their lawful care and custody. In addition to conspiring among themselves to plan and execute these crimes, the defendants recruited, organized and led hundreds of other followers in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to thwart the seizure and removal of Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal public lands,” the DOJ news release said. “Bundy had trespassed on the public lands for over 20 years, refusing to obtain the legally-required permits or pay the required fees to keep and graze his cattle on the land.”
“The indictment charges that Cliven Bundy was the leader, organizer and chief beneficiary of the conspiracy, and possessed ultimate authority over the conspiratorial operations and received the economic benefits of the extortion. The remaining defendants are charged as leaders and organizers who conspired with Bundy to achieve his criminal objectives,” the release added.
If convicted, the maximum penalties for the charges are: five years and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States; six years and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to impede and injure a federal law enforcement officer; 20 years and a $250,000 fine for assault on a federal law enforcement officer; 10 years and a $250,000 fine for threatening a federal law enforcement officer; 10 years and a $250,000 fine for obstruction of the due administration of justice; 20 years and a $250,000 fine for interference with interstate commerce by extortion; and 20 years and a $250,000 fine for interstate travel in aid of extortion. The use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence charge carries a five year mandatory minimum to be served consecutively.