Cliven Bundy heads back to court to seek release

Associated Press

Portland, Ore. — A Nevada rancher will return to court Tuesday to seek his release from jail in Oregon, where he went to support the armed occupation of a national wildlife preserve led by his sons.

A federal judge was expected to decide at a detention hearing whether Cliven Bundy can go home as he awaits trial. Prosecutors said last week that he should stay behind bars because they do not expect him to show up for future court dates.

Bundy, 69, was arrested in Portland last week on charges stemming from a 2014 armed standoff that forced federal officials to release cattle being rounded up near his Nevada ranch.

He came to Oregon to support the weekslong occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, launched Jan. 2 to demand the federal government turn over public lands to local control.

The brothers were arrested Jan. 26 and remain in jail, but four holdouts extended the occupation until last Thursday, when they surrendered to federal authorities.

The elder Bundy was not charged in connection with the Oregon occupation. All his charges stem from the 2014 Nevada standoff: conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, obstruction, weapon use and possession, extortion to interfere with commerce, and aiding and abetting.

If convicted of all six charges, he could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

A criminal complaint accuses Bundy of unlawfully directing more than 200 followers to stop federal agents and contract cowboys who were trying to enforce a court order to round up about 400 Bundy cattle.

Federal authorities have said Bundy owes more than $1 million in fees and penalties for letting cows graze illegally for decades on public land near his ranch.

It’s unclear who will represent Bundy. He asked for a court-appointed attorney at an initial hearing last week, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart said she wanted to see financial documents first.

“The court only appoints counsel for those who can’t afford an attorney,” Stewart said.