A federal jury Friday delivered a mixed bag of results for four men involved in a more than month-long occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, near Burns, Oregon, last year.
Verdicts split nearly evenly for the men — Jason Patrick, Darryl Thorn, Duane Ehmer and Jake Ryan — who were arrested with dozens of others last February after an armed standoff with federal authorities.
Jurors found Patrick guilty of conspiracy to impede U.S. officers, but not guilty of possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility.
Thorn was found guilty of conspiracy to impede U.S. officers and possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility.
Ehmer was found not guilty of conspiracy to impede U.S. officers, but guilty of depredation of government property.
Ryan was found not guilty of conspiracy to impede U.S. officers and possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility, but guilty of depredation of government property.
Sentencing for the four men is scheduled in May. U.S Attorney for the District of Oregon, Billy J. Williams, said the defendants prevented U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management employees from doing their jobs and also interfered with the lives of local residents during the 41-day occupation.
“The negative impacts of their actions continue to this day. However, their efforts to sow discord here in Oregon among residents, business owners, community leaders, and law enforcement personnel have failed,” Williams said, adding “that justice has been served.”
Likewise, Loren Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, said the defendants made choices and are now facing the consequences of those choices.
“The U.S. Constitution gives all of us freedoms, but it also comes with the responsibility to respect the laws of this nation,” Cannon said. “We don’t live in a perfect world, but we do live in a great country. I encourage those who want to make it even better to act in peaceful and lawful ways to inspire lasting, positive change.”
In October, a group of co-defendants, including the group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, were found not guilty on all charges by a jury of their peers. Fourteen others pleaded guilty to charges, and one other had charged dismissed.