Thursday, February 01, 2018

Refuge occupier Ryan Payne to remain in custody, pending sentencing

Maxine Bernstein

A federal judge on Thursday denied Oregon refuge occupier Ryan Payne's release before his Feb. 27 sentencing, saying she lacked confidence that Payne would follow court orders. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown cited Payne's violation in December of her order not to have contact with co-defendants. He visited with Ammon Bundy and Jon Ritzheimer at the Bundy ranch in Nevada after a judge there declared a mistrial in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff case. "Going to Ammon Bundy's house to celebrate and to the Bundy ranch to celebrate were violations,'' Brown said. "That's the problem here.'' The judge also described Payne's leadership role in organizing militia during the 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation and his inflammatory statements about working to prevent two Harney County ranchers from surrendering to serve out federal prison sentences. In addition, she noted his intimidating stance with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward. "It seems when he's engaged with other people who have this attitude, defiance of federal law, he continues to make bad decisions,'' the judge said. Payne apologized for his visit to the Bundy ranch. He said he recognized that it's in his best interest "not to affiliate with these people'' and said his desire is to "repent for the deeds which I have pled guilty.''Payne asked for the judge's mercy. "I agree with your assessment that my interaction with certain individuals is somewhat of an influence on my decision making,'' said Payne, dressed in standard blue jail garb, as he stood beside his lawyer. "My honor and service to my country is slightly marred due to my actions. But one thing I don't want to be marred is my integrity.'' Prosecutors expect to seek a three year and five month sentence for Payne, who has spent two years in custody after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy in the refuge takeover case and then went to Nevada to stand trial in the confrontation with federal authorities over Cliven Bundy's cattle. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow argued against Payne's release, citing his continued opposition to federal government authority and violations of release conditions. Barrow pointed to Payne's conduct before, during and after the armed refuge takeover...more

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