An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Judge Denies Malheur Occupier Ryan Payne's Release

By Conrad Wilson (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Feb. 1, 2018 6:52 p.m.

Ryan Payne, one of the leaders behind the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was denied release Thursday.

“I’m denying the defendant’s motion,” U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown said in federal court in Portland. “He’s to stay in custody.”


Payne is set to be sentenced Feb. 27, but sought release from federal custody to spend time with his fiancee and children. In the past, prosecutors have said they plan to recommend a 41-month sentence.

Prosecutors argued Payne should remain in custody.

But Payne's attorney, Lisa Hay, said he wasn't a risk to the public and would follow the court's orders, including returning for sentencing. Late last year, Payne was granted pretrial release in Nevada for charges he faced there related to a 2014 armed standoff with ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management.


Hay said Payne traveled to and from Montana with the court's permission. She said that proved Payne was willing to comply with the court. Hay noted that Payne returned to Nevada facing a possible 67-year jail sentence. Last month, a judge dismissed the case.

Related: With Bundys Free, What's Next In Oregon And Beyond?

But Brown disagreed. She pointed out that during his release, Payne traveled to the Bundy Ranch in Clark County, Nevada. The Bundy family's ranch was the site of the 2014 Bunkerville standoff. Ammon and Ryan Bundy were also two of the leaders of the Malheur Occupation.

Brown said visiting the ranch and seeing the Bundys was a violation of Payne's release: "That's just a fact. And that's the problem here ... He doesn't leave well enough alone."

Payne apologized to Brown.

"I respect the court," he said. "I agree with your analysis."

In arguing for his release, Payne said his role in the occupation had "slightly marred" his service to his country as a U.S. Army veteran.

"But the thing I don't want marred is my integrity, your honor," Payne said.