PORTLAND, Ore. – A federal jury today delivered its verdicts against four defendants charged with conspiracy, possession of firearms on federal property, and depredation of government property during the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Jurors found Jason Patrick guilty of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States and not guilty of possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility. Darryl Thorn was found guilty of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States and possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility. Duane Ehmer was found not guilty of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States and guilty of depredation of government property. Finally, Jake Ryan was found not guilty of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States and possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility and guilty of depredation of government property.
Co-defendants Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, David Fry, Jeff Banta, Kenneth Medenbach, and Neil Wampler were previously found not guilty on all counts by a jury on October 27, 2016. Co-defendants Jason Blomgren, Brian Cavalier, Blaine Cooper, Eric Flores, Wesley Kjar, Corey Lequieu, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, Jon Ritzheimer, Geoffrey Stanek, Travis Cox, Dylan Anderson, Sandra Anderson, and Sean Anderson previously pleaded guilty. Charges against co-defendant Peter Santilli were previously dismissed.
“We are gratified that justice has been served and thank the jury for their service,” said Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. “For forty-one days early last year, these defendants prevented U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management employees from doing their jobs as stewards of land belonging to the American people. They interfered with the daily lives of residents of Burns, Hines, Harney County and members of the Burns Paiute Tribe. The negative impacts of their actions continue to this day. However, their efforts to sow discord here in Oregon among residents, business owners, community leaders, and law enforcement personnel have failed,” continued U.S. Attorney Williams. “Our communities and state are stronger because of our joint effort to bring these individuals to justice and we as Oregonians can now begin to move past these unfortunate events.”
“Over a period of weeks leading up to and during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, these defendants made choices. Now, a jury of their peers has spoken, and the consequences of those choices are quite clear,” said Loren Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The U.S. Constitution gives all of us freedoms, but it also comes with the responsibility to respect the laws of this nation. We don’t live in a perfect world, but we do live in a great country. I encourage those who want to make it even better to act in peaceful and lawful ways to inspire lasting, positive change.”
Beginning on January 2, 2016, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and several dozen followers, seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon in Harney County. For forty-one days, the armed occupiers prevented federal officials from performing their official duties at the refuge by force, threats, and intimidation. The Bundys and several other occupiers, were arrested on January 26, 2016 on U.S. Highway 395 near Burns en route to a community meeting in John Day. The occupation officially ended on February 11, 2016 when the last four occupiers turned themselves in to federal authorities.
Sentencing for each of the four defendants is scheduled for May 10, 2017. The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Geoffrey Barrow and Ethan Knight, Assistant United States Attorneys for the District of Oregon.