Fresh Charges Could Remove Firearms From Oregon Standoff Defendants
Misdemeanor charges leveled against seven people who participated in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation could result in those defendants losing some of their firearms.
Federal prosecutors filed the charges Monday.
Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer, Dylan Anderson, Sean Anderson, Sandra Anderson, Darryl Thorn and Jake Ryan are all slated to go to trial Feb. 14 for their roles in the occupation.
All of those defendants will face a charge of trespassing for entering the federal facility. Additionally, Patrick, Ehmer, Ryan and Thorn are facing misdemeanor charges for tampering with vehicles and equipment at the refuge.
Patrick faces a third charge for cutting a barbed wire fence, and Ehmer is charged for removing a maroon pouch that held credit cards, cash, a government ID and checks for the Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Prosecutors say if any of the defendants are convicted, they will have to forfeit "any firearms and ammunition involved in or used in the willful commission of the offense."
The additional charges come after federal prosecutors failed to convince jurors to convict occupation leaders — including Ammon Bundy — of federal felony charges.
In addition to the misdemeanors filed Monday, Patrick and the other defendants going to trial in February will face those same felony charges from the first trial, which include conspiracy to impede federal workers and illegal use of firearms.
The detailed misdemeanor charges indicate the government will present new evidence against the defendants. For example, prosecutors specifically say Patrick entered and started a government owned Dodge Durango, while Thorn, Ehmer and Ryan used excavation equipment on the refuge.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown also issued an order Monday, denying a request from Patrick to throw out the case entirely.
He had argued government employees may have biased potential jurors by issuing statements after the occupation leaders were acquitted in October.
But Brown said Patrick’s argument lacks merit.
"The statements of United States Attorney (for Oregon Billy) Williams, (FBI) Special Agent in Charge (Greg) Bretzing, and Secretary (of the Interior Sally) Jewell were professional," Brown wrote.
She added those statements from government officials "expressed to-be-expected disappointment that they felt as a result of the verdict."
Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting