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Bundy supporter gets 68 years

In April, a jury found Gregory Burleson guilty for his part in the 2014 armed standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.

 

On Wednesday, one of 17 defendants being tried for their part in the 2014 standoff between supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management was sentenced to 68 years in prison. Gregory Burleson, 53, of Phoenix, was convicted in April of eight counts including assault on federal officers, obstruction of justice and extortion.

During the 32-day trial earlier this year, prosecutors showed images of Burleson in a sandy wash near Bunkerville, Nevada, holding a long gun and participating in the face-off over Bundy’s cattle. The herd had been illegally grazing public land for years. When the BLM announced its plans to impound the livestock, Bundy and several members of his family put out a call on social media for people to support him in thwarting the government’s operation. Burleson was among the hundreds who traveled to Bundy Ranch to help.

A screenshot from an interview with Gregory Burleson where he stated he wanted to kill federal agents. The video was produced by undercover FBI agents posing as documentary filmmakers.
FBI/The Intercept

Burleson’s attorney, Terrence Jackson, said his client was manipulated by Cliven Bundy and “became mesmerized by his fame.” The Bundy supporter had participated in self-styled militia groups and told an undercover FBI agent after the standoff that he wanted to kill federal employees.

The sentence is notably higher than Jackson requested but lower than the 87 years the government hoped for. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the judge took Burleson’s poor health into account in making her decision.  

Todd Engel, another defendant in the Bunkerville trial convicted in April, is slated for sentencing on Sept. 28. A jury found Engel guilty of two charges: interstate travel to aid extortion and obstruction of justice. The jury was deadlocked on charges for Engel and Burleson’s four co-defendants, who are currently being retried at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas. 

Another participant in the standoff, Gerald DeLemus of New Hampshire, was sentenced to seven years in prison in June. DeLemus had pleaded guilty last year.

Cliven Bundy and others, including several of his sons, will be featured in two more trials, the dates for which have yet to be set.

Tay Wiles is an associate editor for High Country News and can be reached at taywiles@hcn.org.