Las Vegas, Nevada - Two of the 19 defendants charged in the Nevada criminal case involving the armed standoff over Cliven Bundy’s trespassing cattle, pleaded guilty Thursday to felony charges before Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.
“Federal law enforcement officers must be able to engage in their official duties, including executing federal court orders, without fear of assault or losing their lives,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “Persons who impede and interfere with the official duties of these law enforcement officers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, N.H., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and one count of interstate travel in aid of extortion.
Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Ariz., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and one count of assault on a federal officer.
Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1. DeLemus faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count, up to 20 years in prison on the extortion count, and fines of up to $250,000 on each count. Cooper faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count, up to 20 years in prison on the assault count, and fines of up to $250,000 on each count.
DeLemus and Cooper are the first of 19 defendants charged in the case to plead guilty. The remaining 17 defendants, including Cliven D. Bundy, Ryan C. Bundy, and Ammon E. Bundy, are scheduled for trial beginning in February 2017.
Beginning on about March 28, 2014, federal law enforcement officers from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) were attempting to execute federal court orders authorizing them to remove and impound Cliven Bundy’s cattle that were trespassing on federal public lands in and around Bunkerville, Nev. 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. In an effort to prevent the federal law enforcement officers from removing the cattle, the defendants are alleged to have recruited and organized followers to use armed force against them, and on April 12, 2014, the defendants led a massive armed assault against the officers in order to extort them into abandoning the cattle that they had gathered.
DeLemus’ plea agreement states that he learned of Cliven Bundy and placed a telephone call from New Hampshire to Cliven Bundy in Nevada on or about April 8, 2014. During that call, DeLemus understood Bundy to tell him that federal officers had guns and that Bundy needed “bodies.” DeLemus agreed to assist Bundy. Shortly thereafter, DeLemus gathered multiple firearms and gunmen, and they traveled from New Hampshire to Nevada. DeLemus arrived in Bunkerville on or about April 13, 2014, after the cattle had been forcibly obtained by Bundy and his conspirators. For weeks thereafter, DeLemus provided personal security for Bundy and other conspirators, organized and led other gunmen in conducting patrols and manning security checkpoints, called for others to travel to Bunkerville, and displayed firearms and made public statements to show and threaten force. DeLemus admitted that when he traveled to Nevada, he joined a conspiracy to display force and aggression in order to influence, impede or interfere with the duties of federal law enforcement officers.
Cooper’s plea agreement states that he knew that Cliven Bundy and his sons and others planned to thwart, impede and interfere with the impoundment operations, and that he knowingly agreed to participate in the plan by recruiting others to join the conspiracy and encouraging and inciting others to confront and interfere with federal law enforcement officers and by providing protection for Cliven Bundy. Cooper knew other members of the conspiracy used and carried firearms and planned to use and carry them to display force and aggression against law enforcement officers. Cooper admitted that on April 12, 2014, at least one member of the conspiracy assaulted federal law enforcement officers by brandishing a firearm during the impoundment operations in order to intimidate and instill fear in the officers.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and BLM. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven W. Myhre and Nicholas D. Dickinson and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nadia J. Ahmed and Erin M. Creegan.