An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Malheur Refuge Occupier And 'Recruiter' Blaine Cooper Pleads Guilty

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Portland, Oregon July 7, 2016 11:43 p.m.
Melissa Cooper with husband Blaine Cooper. They were at the occupied refuge since Jan. 3.

Melissa Cooper with husband Blaine Cooper. They were at the occupied refuge since Jan. 3.

Amanda Peacher / OPB


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier Blaine Cooper pleaded guilty Thursday to his actions in the standoff at the beginning of this year.

Cooper pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to impede federal workers by threat or intimidation.

According to federal prosecutor Craig Gabriel, the 37-year-old acted as a recruiter at the refuge in January, and urged supporters over video to bring their firearms to the federal site.


There is no evidence that Cooper possessed any firearms himself at the refuge.

Related: An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Cooper was involved with another, similar dispute at the Sugar Pine Mine in Josephine County in 2015.  As a part of the Malheur plea agreement, he will not face any charges for that incident.

Cooper's plea agreement does not release him from charges he is still facing in Nevada for a 2014 standoff with Bureau of Land Management workers at Cliven Bundy's ranch.

Gabriel recommended a split sentence, depending on what Cooper’s total sentence ends up being. For example, six months in custody with time served and six months in some form of alternative incarceration, such as a halfway house.

Cooper’s lawyer, Krista Shipsey, said Cooper told her that he “felt like a nobody” before Malheur, and felt that the so-called patriot movement gave him a purpose.

Cooper’s sentencing date is Nov. 18.

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