Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Bundy Ranch bodyguard drops DIY defense, admits to gun crimes

A Snohomish County man made famous by serving as a bodyguard to renegade Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has pleaded guilty to gun crimes. Schuyler Pyatte Barbeau was one day into a jury trial in which he was representing himself when he pleaded guilty to possessing a machine gun and a related count, which likely will carry a prison sentence. Barbeau, 30, appeared poised to fight the allegations before the abrupt about-face on Tuesday. As recently as Monday, Barbeau sought to delay his trial, claiming he needed additional time to review records related to an FBI operation targeting Bundy. Barbeau had been pictured standing with Bundy during a standoff between armed anti-government extremists and federal agents attempting to collect decades of unpaid grazing fees from the rancher. Arrested in December 2015 after trying to sell an unregistered automatic assault rifle, Barbeau recently sought records related to an FBI undercover operation that saw agents pose as a film crew making a documentary about the Bundy standoff. Barbeau claims agents working with the fictitious Longbow Productions company recorded a three-hour interview with him months before his arrest in Washington state...Acting as his own attorney, Barbeau argued the federal government lacked the authority to outlaw homemade machine guns like his. Barbeau built his own AR-15-style rifle in January, apparently milling the parts necessary to convert a semi-automatic AR-15 into a machine gun. Barbeau, citing his own legal research and information gleaned from “various internet forums,” opined that federal gun laws only applied to people engaged in commercial activities. “To exercise his rights, he chose not to participate in commerce of firearms,” Barbeau said in court papers, describing himself. “There was zero intent to commit crime.” As he described it, Barbeau bought all the parts used to build an AR-15 and assembled it himself. He then machined the part that enabled automatic fire out of a piece of plastic. Barbeau put forward a claim that because he built the gun himself, it was not subject to federal restrictions. Rather than attempt to make that case to a jury, though, Barbeau pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle and possession of a machine gun. Barbeau is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 1 at U.S. District Court in Seattle. He remains jailed...more

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