Nevada brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy and 14 others have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon.
All 16 defendants — including four protesters still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns — have been charged with a single felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States.
Both Bundy brothers, the sons of anti-government Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, are being held without bail and face a Feb. 24 arraignment. Authorities consider Ammon Bundy the Oregon takeover’s leader.
The three-page indictment, unsealed in Portland on Thursday, accuses the defendants of conspiring to “prevent by force, intimidation and threats” employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from carrying out their duties at the refuge.
The conspiracy began Oct. 5 when two of the defendants (Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne) traveled to Burns to warn the sheriff that “extreme civil unrest” would occur “if certain demands were not met,” the indictment said.
Bundy, 40, and the other armed protesters are alleged to have occupied the wildlife refuge on Jan. 2.
The protesters refused to leave the refuge and threatened violence against anyone who tried to remove them, the indictment alleges.
Starting in November, the defendants “recruited and encouraged” other people in person, through social media or by other means of communication to join the conspiracy, according to the indictment.
The defendants also tried to “intimidate and coerce” the residents of Burns, the indictment alleges.
One of the protesters, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54, was shot to death by law enforcement officers as they moved in to arrest the Bundy brothers and others as they traveled along a highway outside the refuge.
Among those named in the indictment is Brian Cavalier, 44, who has called himself the Bundy family bodyguard. He is being held without bail.
Family patriarch Cliven Bundy was not charged in the takeover conspiracy. He has remained at his Bunkerville ranch but has expressed repeated public support for the occupation.
The elder Bundy attracted national attention in April 2014 during an armed standoff with law enforcement authorities outside his ranch over his grazing rights on federal land.
— Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.