Tat­too artist pleads guilty in refuge case

The Daily Herald - - LOCAL NEWS - By Steven DuBois

PORT­LAND, Ore. — An Ari­zona tat­too artist pleaded guilty Wed­nes­day to fed­eral charges in the Ore­gon’s ranch­ing stand­off case.

Brian Cava­lier, a body­guard for stand­off leader Am­mon Bundy and his fa­ther Cliven Bundy, pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy and pos­sess­ing a gun in a fed­eral fa­cil­ity. Cava­lier ad­mit­ted in fed­eral court in Port­land that he con­spired with oth­ers to im­pede In­te­rior Depart­ment em­ploy­ees from do­ing their jobs at the refuge near Burns.

He be­came the sixth de­fen­dant to plead guilty in the con­tin­u­ing case. The other five took deals in which gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tors agreed to dis­miss the gun charge.

As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Craig Gabriel said pros­e­cu­tors, in ex­change for Cava­lier’s ac­cep­tance of re­spon­si­bil­ity, will rec­om­mend a sen­tence far be­low the max­i­mum of 11 years in prison, likely 15-21 months.

Cava­lier also faces charges in Ne­vada for his in­volve­ment in a 2014 armed stand­off with fed­eral agents at Cliven Bundy’s ranch. Gabriel said Wed­nes­day’s plea agree­ment is with Ore­gon alone, and there are “no prom­ises” in the Ne­vada case.

Cava­lier, 45, trav­eled to Ore­gon this past win­ter to par­tic­i­pate in the Am­mon Bundy-led oc­cu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, a protest against the fed­eral con­trol of Western lands and the im­pris­on­ment of two ranch­ers con­victed of set­ting fires.

Cava­lier stayed for only five days be­fore go­ing back to Ari­zona. He had a runin with po­lice there and re­turned to Ore­gon.

He was ar­rested Jan. 26 along with Bundy as the two trav­eled to a com­mu­nity meet­ing away from the refuge. Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the oc­cu­pa­tion spokesman, was in a dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cle and was fa­tally shot by Ore­gon State Po­lice dur­ing the traf­fic stop.

Gabriel noted that Cava­lier was armed dur­ing his ini­tial stay at the refuge, but didn’t have a gun when he re­turned to Ore­gon and was un­armed dur­ing the traf­fic stop.

Cava­lier told the judge his ac­tions could have led to the in­tim­i­da­tion of fed­eral em­ploy­ees. Gabriel took ex­cep­tion to the word “could,” and the de­fen­dant re­phrased his an­swer. In re­sponse to an­other ques­tion, he said: “Yes, your honor. I did agree with at least one other per­son to im­pede,” em­pha­siz­ing the last word.

Cava­lier will be sen­tenced Sept. 30, three weeks af­ter most of the re­main­ing 20 de­fen­dants — in­clud­ing Am­mon Bundy — are sched­uled to go on trial.

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