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News | local | An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

From Jail, Bundy Calls On Federal Government To Leave Harney County

Federal Judge Michael Mosman upheld a previous ruling Tuesday, stating that militant Joseph O’Shaughnessy should be released from jail in Portland on bail. But even as Mosman ruled on the matter, militant leader Ammon Bundy made a fresh call for federal land in Harney County to be turned over to local control.

Joseph O'Shaughnessy

Joseph O'Shaughnessy

O’Shaughnessy’s lawyer, Amy Baggio, successfully argued that he is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.

Despite images and videos presented by federal prosecutors showing O’Shaughnessy carrying guns near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and encouraging people to come to Burns, Oregon, Baggio argued her client was against the occupation.

She even offered statements to the court from Ryan and Ammon Bundy — leaders of the armed occupation at the refuge — that said O’Shaughnessy was against their methods.

Last week, Judge Stacie Beckerman granted O’Shaughnessy bail, but prosecutors appealed his release.

Mosman made no decision Tuesday at the detention hearing of Pete Santilli, who will appear again in court Thursday afternoon. Santilli is the conservative Internet talk show host of The Pete Santilli Show.

Mosman said “apart from his own words,” Santilli is a classic case for release, citing his status as a veteran and having an established residence in Ohio.

But, Mosman said, if somebody else made many of the same statements as Santilli without the context of a radio show “that would overshadow everything.”

Peter Santilli

Peter Santilli

Prosecutors said Santilli had threatened a federal judge in Florida and made comments about shooting police if they entered his house at 4 a.m., as well as comments about “taking care of” family members of law enforcement.

Santilli’s lawyer, Tom Coan, said Santilli has called a federal judge while on his show and asked her to recuse herself from a case. Prosecutors said U.S. marshals are investing the incident but didn’t have additional details.

Coan also tried to explain Santilli’s comments about law enforcement families. But Judge Mosman didn’t appear convinced.

Federal prosecutors raised concerns about Santilli’s mental stability, based on an interview pretrial services had done with his family, and said Santilli should be released to a halfway house.

Coan said Santilli was estranged from his parents and hadn’t spoken to them in three or four years, arguing they wouldn’t be able to comment on his mental stability. There were also questions about how Santilli conducted himself with law enforcement while in Burns.

“I don’t want you to stand up and say I’m an attorney and argue for his release,” Mosman said to Coan. “If you have some evidence about his conduct in Burns, put it on.”

And with that, Coan called Santilli’s business partner and significant other, Deborah Jordan Reynolds, to the stand.

Reynolds testified that Santilli had a cordial relationship with law enforcement while broadcasting from Harney County.

When asked about Santilli’s overall mental stability, Reynolds said, “I’m not concerned for my personal safety or that of my family.”

Bundy Hearing Withdrawn

Occupation leader Ammon Bundy was scheduled to appeal his detention Tuesday, but his lawyers withdrew their motion just before the hearing.

Bundy was arrested last week, after leading the armed occupation at the refuge for nearly a month.

Ammon Bundy

Ammon Bundy

The occupation continues at the refuge, where four armed militants are holed up.

On Tuesday Bundy issued a statement through his lawyers, again asking the remaining occupiers to leave but doubled down on his call to rid the land of the federal government.

He advised the FBI to leave the county immediately and for the government to turn over the land.

“The Harney County Sheriff should cordon off the refuge as the citizens work on returning these lands back to the people of Harney County and the State of Oregon as prescribed in the constitution,” Bundy said. “It is simple: The land belongs to the people.”

Police also released a statement Tuesday about the investigation into the officer-involved shooting and death of militant Robert LaVoy Finicum.

Law enforcement said it could be four to six weeks before information is available to the public.

“Our office continues to lead the Major Incident Team on the Harney county officer-involved shooting investigation,” said Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Shane Nelson in a statement. “This is an on-going investigation and in order to maintain its integrity, no further information will be released until a thorough investigation and review is completed.”

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