Key Oregon refuge occupier Ryan Payne pleads guilty

He is expected to plead guilty in his Nevada trial too.

Ryan Payne in a courtroom sketch from his federal court appearance Wednesday, January 27, 2016. (Abigail Marble/Sketch Artist)
Ryan Payne in a courtroom sketch from his federal court appearance Wednesday, January 27, 2016. (Abigail Marble/Sketch Artist)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A military veteran who the government says took leadership roles in two standoffs involving the Bundy family has pleaded guilty in Oregon and is expected to soon do the same in Nevada.

At the federal courthouse in Portland, Ryan Payne of Anaconda, Montana, admitted Tuesday he conspired with others to prevent Interior Department employees from doing their jobs this winter at the Malheur National Wildfire Refuge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said prosecutors are recommending his Oregon prison sentence – likely 3 ½ years – run at the same time as whatever punishment he receives for his role in the 2014 standoff with federal agents at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch.

Gabriel says Nevada prosecutors plan to recommend a sentence of 12 years in prison, and Payne’s defense will push for seven years.

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