PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The first federal court appearances for the final 4 occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge took place Friday afternoon in downtown Portland, and they pleaded not guilty to a federal felony charge.
Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, Jeff Banta from Yerrington, Nevada and David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio surrendered to federal officials Thursday morning.
They entered their pleas to a charge of conspiracy to impede employees at the refuge from performing their duties. A judge set an April 19 trial date.
All courtroom sketches by Sketch Artist Abigail Marble
On the Bundy Ranch Facebook page, a post called for protesters to gather outside US District Court on SW 3rd Avenue around 12:30 p.m. A handful of people attended.
Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who helped negotiate the surrender of the remaining holdouts, waved to the four in court. She was read a statement after the court appearance.
Sheriff supports Andersons’ actions in Oregon standoff
Sean and Susan Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, made some poor choices when they joined the occupiers at a wildlife refuge in Oregon, but they did nothing wrong.
That’s the opinion of Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings.
Even though the couple posted videos and social media messages urging violence against the government, the sheriff says they were only exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.
Giddings told The Lewiston Tribune Thursday that the Andersons got swept up in the emotions of the moment.
The sheriff has been criticized after making earlier statements that the Andersons were good citizens in Riggins.
Nine others charged in refuge occupation
Federal prosecutors said 9 additional people from 6 states have been charged in connection with the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon says 7 of them were arrested Thursday.
The newly charged include: Blaine Cooper of Arizona; Wesley Kjar of Utah; Corey Lequieu of Nevada; Neil Wampler of California, Jason Blomgren of North Carolina, and Darryl Thorn and Eric Flores, both of Washington state.
Corey Lequieu of Fallon was being held without bail at the Washoe County Jail on Friday after a U.S. magistrate found him to be a dangerous flight risk.
Lequieu made his an initial court appearance in court Reno Thursday after he and nine others were indicted on a single count of conspiracy to impede U.S. officers. If found guilty, he could face up to six years in prison.
Judge William Cobb said during Thursday’s hearing that federal marshals will transport Lequieu to district court in Portland, Oregon, but he didn’t say when that will happen.
Cooper appeared in federal court in Utah Friday, charged with one count of conspiring to impede federal officers.
Cooper, accompanied by a defense attorney, acknowledged that he is the suspect named by federal authorities.
He is reserving any challenges for when he is transferred to Oregon.
25 total people face charges
That means a total of 25 people have been charged with the standoff. They all face the same felony count of conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.
Duane Leo Ehmer
David Lee Fry
Jeff Wayne Banta
Sandra Lynn Pfeifer Anderson
Jason Charles Blomgren
Darryl William Thorn
Eric Lee Flores
Plus defendants not named until Friday: Geoffrey Stanek and Daryl William Thorn
The patriarch of the Bundy clan, Cliven Bundy, remains in Multnomah County Jail on a federal hold related to the armed standoff he led in 2014 at his Nevada ranch.
He is charged with 6 federal crimes, including assault.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.