A federal judge in Portland denied bail for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy at a hearing Tuesday.
Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart agreed with prosecutors that Bundy posed a flight risk, is a danger to the community, and should be held in jail while awaiting trial.
“I agree with the government, if he’s released and goes back to his ranch that will be the last the court will see of him,” Stewart said.
Salem-based attorney Noel Grefenson represented Bundy, and said he would appeal the judge’s decision.
Bundy didn’t speak during his detention hearing, but turned and waved to the packed courtroom as he shuffled — ankles shackled — back to jail. Some in the gallery waved back.
Grefenson asked why it’s taken the U.S. Attorney’s office so long to bring charges against Bundy.
“The government is saying he’s a danger and a lawless man,” Grefenson said. “And yet, over the last 22 months, Nevada has done nothing.”
Last week, federal prosecutors in Nevada charged Bundy with crimes related to his longstanding conflict with the Bureau of Land Management, and more specifically to the 2014 armed standoff with federal officials at his ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada.
Bundy was arrested Feb. 10 at the Portland International Airport. He claimed he was on his way to visit his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who are being detained at the Multnomah County Jail on federal conspiracy charges for their roles in an armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.
During arguments in the courtroom, Steven Myhre, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, said Bundy was arrested in Portland because he usually moved around his ranch with bodyguards. Myhre also said Bundy had set up armed checkpoints on his ranch and on public land around his ranch, as well as hosted militia training camps.
“All of this was done to keep the federal government away from him,” Myhre said. “Mr. Bundy, by his actions and his deeds, has shown he’s lawless and that he’s a violent man.”
Prior to being arrested, the Bundy Ranch Facebook page had stated that Cliven Bundy was coming to Oregon, and urged more militants to travel to the wildlife refuge to support the final four holdouts there. Those militants surrendered the day after Bundy was arrested at the airport.
Before Bundy’s Tuesday hearing, daughter-in-law Briana Bundy told the Associated Press that a federal judge in Oregon should have let the 69-year-old live at home while he awaits trial. She said Cliven Bundy isn’t a dangerous person.
But Myhre said if Bundy was out of jail, he would continue to fuel anti-government sentiment.
“There is no evidence in this case to suggest that he would not do the exact same thing again,” Myhre said.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Cliven Bundy on Friday in federal district court in Portland, but he’ll likely return to Nevada in the future.