Feds seek to drop charges on remaining Bundy members

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Nevada filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the charges against the last four defendants in the “Battle of Bunkerville” trials.

The trial for the remaining defendants in the case — Melvin D. Bundy, David H. Bundy, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, and Jason D. Woods — was tentatively set to begin Feb. 26.

“[T]he government believes that, under these circumstances and in the interests of justice, it is appropriate to move to dismiss the Superseding Indictment against the third group of defendants named herein with prejudice,” said prosecutor Daniel R. Schiess.

The men had been charged in March 2016 with a variety of conspiracy and weapons charges related to a 2014 incident between the Bundy family and their supporters and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on public land and seizure of the rancher’s cattle.

In the end, the agents backed down but prosecutors later brought up no less than 19 defendants on a series of charges related to the incident. Some have pleaded guilty, others found guilty, and some exonerated or taken plea deals with what are expected to be light sentences.

The government’s motion to dismiss the charges against the four defendants this week came a month after U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons, and a fourth man who took part in the 2014 confrontation with the government and came in tandem with a request that the court reconsiders the charges against those men.

In the government’s motion to reconsider the charges against the elder Bundy and the lead defendants, prosecutors argue the mistrial and dismissal by the court of the case over evidentiary issues sets a dangerous president.

“This case has major ramifications for all public lands law enforcement officers,” said U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson. “These officers work alone in remote rural areas of the country with no available back-up if confronted with danger. Dismissing this entire case with prejudice, based on the government’s non-disclosure of mostly duplicative evidence of law enforcement’s pre-impoundment surveillance and preparation, would encourage the defendants, their supporters, and the public to disrespect the law and the lawful orders of the courts.”

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