LAS VEGAS — The father of the jailed leader of a group that occupied an Oregon federal wildlife refuge was charged Thursday by federal authorities with leading a tense April 2014 armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents near his ranch in Nevada.
Cliven Bundy was arrested Wednesday night when he arrived at Portland International Airport from Las Vegas to visit his sons, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy.
The charge reopens the festering question of how federal officials would fulfill promises to “administratively and judicially” resolve the cancellation of a roundup of Bundy cattle from rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The 32-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas accuses Bundy of leading more than 200 self-styled militia supporters into the April 2014 confrontation that had snipers with military-style weapons on a freeway overpass training their sights on federal agents who were attempting to enforce a court order to round up Bundy cattle.
“Bundy and his confederates recruited, organized and led hundreds of others in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to achieve their criminal objectives,” the charging document said.
The complaint refers to at least four other people as co-conspirators, but doesn’t name them. Federal authorities said no other arrests were immediately expected.
In Oregon, Bundy’s sons had been leading an armed group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and demanded it be handed over to local control for ranching, mining, logging and other uses. They had also asked that two jailed ranchers in the area be freed.
Authorities arrested Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and other group leaders at a road block on Jan. 26 as they traveled to a community meeting north of the refuge.
Cliven Bundy was being held at the Multnomah County Jail pending an appearance in federal court. He has represented himself in previous local, state and federal legal proceedings.
A family member in Bunkerville, Nevada, said she didn’t think he would hire a lawyer to handle his case.
Bundy’s daughter-in-law, Briana Bundy, also said the family patriarch wasn’t committing a crime in trying to visit his sons, and she questioned why authorities waited almost two years to bring charges.
The criminal complaint accuses Bundy, 69, of conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, obstruction, weapon use an possession, extortion to interfere with commerce and aiding and abetting. If convicted of all six charges, he could face more than 40 years in federal prison and more than $1 million in fines.
Officials wouldn’t say why it took almost 22 months to charge Bundy.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said the matter remained under investigation.