The first man to be sentenced for charges growing out the Bundy ranch standoff in April 2014 is to be imprisoned for more than seven years, even though he did not arrive at the ranch until hours after it ended when BLM agents released Cliven Bundy’s cattle rather than risk a shootout with armed protesters.
Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus of New Hampshire pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. and interstate travel in aid of extortion. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro sentenced DeLemus to year longer than expected, saying she faulted him for trying to withdraw his plea and that she didn’t think he accepted responsibility for his deeds.
The judge also called DeLemus “a bully vigilante, threatening peacekeepers of the community.” Can’t help but wonder how the other defendants who were actually at the standoff will fare before this judge. Might attorneys quote that in arguments seeking a different judge who has not yet made up her mind?
After showing up at the Bundy ranch DeLemus camped out for a month helping to organize arms patrols and acting as a spokesman for the militia members.
One of the reasons DeLemus may have tried to withdraw his plea is how the case against others is turning out.
Two of Cliven Bundy’s sons, who had been arrested on separate but similar charges of illegally occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge to protest the jailing of father and son ranchers under a terrrorism law for letting fires get out of control and burn a few acres of federal public land, were acquitted of those charges this past fall by a jury, along with their co-defendants.
In April, the first of three scheduled trials for the Bunkerville defendants — charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers — ended in a mistrial. The jury found only two of six people on trial guilty of some charges but deadlocked on the others. The jurors agreed to convict on only 10 of the 60 charges brought. None of the conspiracy charges stuck.
The four defendants against whom jurors were deadlocked on all charges are scheduled to be retried in July, meaning the other defendants might not face trial till next year, after having been jailed without bail for two years.
One other person has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, as are the two convicted in the April trial.
DeLemus, who co-chaired the New Hampshire Veterans for Trump coalition, reportedly will seek a pardon from Trump and ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene in the prison sentence.
DeLemus’ wife Susan, a former two-term Republican state representative in New Hampshire, has been quoted as saying her husband signed his guilty plea to “take the fall.”
DeLemus told the court that he crossed the country with his guns because he had heard government snipers were posted on the ranch and said was willing to “take a bullet” to protect the family. “My concern was that someone would get hurt,” he was quoted as saying. “It wasn’t the cows. I didn’t want that family injured. God will know in the end.”
He also quoted a Bible passage about there being no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. “I may not have given it out there,” he said. “I’m giving it now, in jail.”