A conservative activist who served as a chairman of a “Veterans for Trump” coalition in New Hampshire was one of 14 people charged on Thursday by the Justice Department in connection with the armed showdown over federal control of grazing lands led by the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
The federal indictments were part of an expanding criminal case that now includes charges against 19 members of the Bundy family and their allies stemming from the weekslong standoff in 2014 over Mr. Bundy’s illegal grazing on federal lands. During the confrontation, about 50 Bundy supporters from around the country gathered at the family’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nev., to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from confiscating Mr. Bundy’s approximately 500 cattle, whom he had been letting loose on federal land for decades, accruing more than $1 million in grazing fees.
Among those people arrested on Thursday was Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, N.H, a former Marine who in July 2015 was named to a New Hampshire veterans group supporting Donald J. Trump, the Republican front-runner. Prosecutors said that, in actions well before Mr. Trump’s campaign, Mr. DeLemus had acted as a “gunman and midlevel organizer” during the standoff in 2014 in Nevada.
Mr. Bundy and four others — including two of his sons, Ryan and Ammon — were indicted last month on charges they carried out a “massive armed assault” on the federal officers who tried to confiscate Mr. Bundy’s cattle; Bureau of Land Management rangers pulled back from the confrontation. This winter, Ammon and Ryan Bundy led a weekslong armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, and are among several facing separate criminal charges in that case.
“Today’s actions make clear that we will not tolerate the use of threats or force against federal agents who are doing their jobs,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. “We will continue to protect public land on behalf of the American people, uphold federal law and ensure that those who employ violence to express their grievances with the government will be apprehended and held accountable for their crimes.”
Two more of Cliven Bundy’s sons, David and Melvin, were among those arrested on Thursday. Cliven Bundy has 14 children. “They just took him and went,” Arden Bundy said, describing his brother David’s arrest in Utah. “They’re tearing our family apart.”
Mr. DeLemus has been active in New Hampshire’s Tea Party movement and has drawn mentions in the local news for organizing a rally against illegal immigration and a provocative contest in 2015 in New Hampshire to draw the Prophet Mohamed. He ultimately called off the contest, telling his hometown newspaper, the Rochester Times, that its real aim was to show the importance of free expression.
SOURCE: JACK HEALY
The New York Times