Jury convicts two in first trial in Bundy case

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On Monday, two men were convicted by a federal jury on multiple counts that stemmed from the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada.

Former paid FBI informant Gregory Burleson, and Idaho resident Todd Engel were convicted on charges of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of extortion.

Burleson was convicted on multiple additional counts including assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer and other firearms counts.

In a morning note to U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, the jury claimed to be “hopelessly deadlocked” regarding the remaining counts and defendants, yet they were instructed to continue deliberations.

In the first of three trials, the six defendants were accused of supplying the weapons in an armed assault against federal agents who were attempting to remove cattle from public land. Rancher Cliven Bundy owned the cattle, and faces trial on similar charges later in 2017.

Bundy had been embroiled in a longstanding conflict with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees as it reached a critical point three years ago when authorities began rounding up his cattle. Bundy’s plight attracted hundreds of protesters, many of them armed, to the cattle impoundment site to object to what they viewed as federal overreach.

Charges faced by the first six men on trial included conspiracy, threats, extortion and related counts. According to prosecutors, the defendants used force to coerce federal agents to abandon approximately 400 cows that were in the lawful possession of the U.S. government.

Defense attorneys contended that the defendants were peaceful protesters executing their First and Second Amendment rights against militant law enforcement personnel.

The trial began February 6, and deliberations have been ongoing since April 13.

Bundy and 10 other individuals are jailed as they await trial on similar charges. Defendants were divided into three groups by prosecutors. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “The first group, charged as ‘gunmen,’ have been described by the government as the least culpable of the alleged co-conspirators.”

H/T: Las Vegas Review-Journal

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