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Details Emerge on Santilli Plea Agreement

Santilli’s plea bargain could be detrimental to the other defendants’ cases.

Details Emerge on Santilli Plea Agreement

Details Emerge on Santilli Plea Agreement

Radio Host Pete Santilli Cops Plea to Avoid Possible Six-Year Sentence

By Mark Anderson

(American Free Press) LAS VEGAS—Things have taken a sharp, rather unexpected turn regarding the Bundy trial in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada. For one thing, internet-radio personality Pete Santilli—one of the defendants in the trial phase that had been set to begin with jury selection on Oct. 10—“pled guilty today (Friday, Oct. 6) and was released pending sentencing,” his attorney, Chris Rasmussen of Las Vegas, confirmed for AFP by phone about 4:30 p.m. Eastern time that day.

Notably, that phase involves the federal government trying cattleman Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, Ryan Payne. Due to his plea arrangement, Santilli, of course, is no longer involved in this phase.

Two other defendants, O. Scott. Drexler and Eric Parker, who are being retried for a third time from earlier proceedings, will join the others in this second of three planned trials. The other thing is that both the prosecution and defense sought and secured yet another delay in this complicated trial, fearing that the highly emotional aftermath of the recent deadly shooting—during a country music concert outside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino along the renowned Las Vegas strip—would adversely impact the attitude and opinions of jurors for the time being.

As of this writing, the Oct. 10 date for jury selection will be changed to on, or around, Oct. 30 and could be subject to change again, given the bumpy track record of this multiple-defendant trial—which the federal government has been largely losing so far. Santilli, who shot extended livestream video footage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building in eastern Oregon—prompting critics to allege that his “journalistic” coverage enabled the government to more closely monitor the ranchers who occupied the abandoned building to protest onerous federal land controls—was jailed for his role in that affair.

Although later cleared of Oregon-related charges, he was kept behind bars and transferred to Nevada to stand trial because he also took part in the spring 2014 Bunkerville, Nevada “standoff” that saw Cliven Bundy, his sons and other supporters gather to protest the policies and conduct of the BLM and other federal agencies—which, in the spring of 2014, unsuccessfully attempted to confiscate Cliven’s cattle over a grazing-fee dispute.

Regarding Nevada, Santilli pled guilty to a felony count of obstruction of justice, based on the government’s assertion that he used his own vehicle to impede the movement of a BLM truck during the attempted cattle impoundment.

Interestingly, Rasmussen believes the government may willing to consider the prison time that Santilli has already served—behind bars since Jan. 26, 2016—as sufficient punishment for that felony charge. But a reading of the plea memo shared with AFP by Rasmussen shows that the government reserves the right to impose a longer prison term, possibly six years, when Santilli is sentenced, probably in January. Meanwhile, two pending defense motions—one to exclude Oregon-related evidence in the government’s Nevada case against Santilli, and another to challenge the government’s claim that Santilli could not excuse his Nevada actions because of his journalistic background—are now moot, Rasmussen added.

According to court documentation, Santilli’s acceptance of pleading guilty to this single felony-obstruction charge requires, under penalty of perjury, that he accept the following government-sourced statements as “true and correct,” regarding the “standoff” in southern Nevada:

  • “Beginning on or around March 28, 2014, federal law enforcement officers from the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service were engaged in the official duties of executing federal court orders to remove and impound cattle trespassing upon federal public lands in and around Bunkerville, Nevada, the cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy, a local rancher.
  • “Defendant Santilli knew that Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon, Dave, Mel, and Ryan, (collectively, “the Bundys”), and others associated with them, planned to thwart, impede and interfere with impoundment operations.
  • “On April 9, 2014, Defendant Santilli used force to prevent officers from discharging their duties by using his vehicle to block BLM law enforcement officers and civilian employees as they were performing their duties related to the impoundment. “Defendant Santilli drove his vehicle straight toward a BLM law enforcement officer’s vehicle, preventing the officer and the rest of the convoy behind him from being able to move forward.
  • “The officer ordered Defendant Santilli to move out of the way but Defendant Santilli continued to block the convoy’s path. Defendant Santilli finally reversed his vehicle out of the path of the convoy only after the officer repeated the command several times.
  • “By using force to block the convoy, Defendant Santilli allowed others to surround the convoy and threaten the occupants of the vehicles by force violence and fear, inducing the officers to leave the place where their duties were required to be performed.
  • “Defendant Santilli acknowledges that all of the above took place within the State and Federal District of Nevada.”

The maximum penalty for “Conspiracy to Impede or Injure a Federal Officer,” as this count against Santilli is formally named under 18 U.S.C. § 372, is six years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both. But the plea memo shows that Santilli owes no restitution under this charge, nor will there be forfeiture of his assets—provided he meets the strict terms of his supervised release until he’s sentenced.

He must remain crime-free regarding federal, state and local laws, is restricted from any significant travel, and among other things must avoid any known association with anyone who’s breaking any law. Nor can Santilli possess a gun or any other item deemed by the government as a weapon. Just failing to show up for a hearing or some other procedural matter would result in this deal being dissolved.


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8 Comments on Details Emerge on Santilli Plea Agreement

  1. I do not have to walk in Pete’s shoes but this “deal” does not sound like much of a “deal” to me. I am just saddened to see Pete give up on defending himself and giving these slime a victory they do not deserve. I am not in his shoes but after all this time being mistreated and wrongly imprisoned I think I would just grit my teeth and fight to my last breath at this point. All the charges are a sham, the people that should have been charged are the BLM, Forestry Service, and the feds behind the land theft in the west. I don’t know all the details but if there is not even a guarantee in this “deal” that he gets time served I would not trust any of them even for a second. Navarro is totally lawless and rogue and Pete should have thought about that before making this decision. I believe Pete would have won and sent a powerful message through that victory but now these slime can claim a victory. I do not have to walk in Pete’s shoes, I am glad he is free, I hope he does not get screwed by these evil people.

    • Excellent comments. The plea deal is a perfect example of why the federal team is so obsessed with pretrial imprisonment. Pete Santilli had done an excellent job of compiling hundreds of documents and evidence in support of his innocence and the government’s wrongdoing. But in a recent comment by Pete Santilli as quoted by his partner Deb Jordan Pete said that he was tired of looking at the razor wire and just wanted to be free again. So the federal government achieved with perfect clarity exactly what they wanted through pretrial prison imprisonment and got Pete to accept a plea deal rather than to fight on. Can we all agree that pre-trial prison is one of the worst evils ever invented by man?

  2. Pete has been behind bars for an extended period of time, he’s probably just wanting his freedom back. The Federal Legal system has been brutal to these guys. It’s disgusting. I have been waiting to find out when Jeff Sessions is going to end this charade. A letter has been sent to Sessions signed by 30 + legislators in Idaho asking Sessions to stop these repeated prosecutions. It is not the way our Laws work, repeatedly retrying defendants to get the outcome desired by Prosecutors when the defendants have been found Not Guilty. I’m certain vicious Navarro will hand down a harsh penalty for Pete. She’s got an ax to grind.

  3. I got a kick out of how Pete “Infiltrated” the media at Malhure. He would take his place among the press wonks as they questioned Ammon. With the cameras rolling and microphones poised, Pete would ask Ammon questions geared for allowing him to expand on Federal abuse. In Portland, the Feds knew they had no case against Pete but tried to extort a plea anyway. He held out, and the fraudsters dropped the charges at the last moment. After these first two Vegas trials not a gambler in Vegas would put any money on Navarro and co. Pete knows all this, so we are back to the question….WHY ?

  4. The mystery for me is that Pete had compiled thousands of pages of defense documents. It was not too long ago that Deb Jordan posted that Pete was well prepared for his defense and would expose many things the government would not like exposed.
    But the compelling issue is “the penalty does not match the crime”. We have become used to the idea that a federal offense gets a giant sized punishment. Now, if Pete had blocked a mall cop and his convoy and then later removed his car thus allowing the mall cops to perform their duties, would it come with a 6 year prison sentence and 250,000 in fines. If no, why not?

  5. An evenhanded and factual article Mr Anderson,thank you. The big question remains unanswered however….WHY ? Why did Pete roll ? Note that even though Pete has agreed to this devils bargain, the feds still hold his possible sentencing over his head. This “Plea deal” is all one way. At the sentencing, Pete will be forced to recite and agree to the above Govt sourced documents, and he will have to do this to the satisfaction of the judge before the sentence is handed down.

    • I have the same question Neil. I am puzzled that Pete accepted this plea. Also, I would never take a plea that states I could ‘still’ receive time. This whole court case is puzzling. I was at Bundy Ranch and Camp Liberty… with you guys and I am worried for anyone that hopes to have a fair and impartial trial under the Unconstitutional Judge Navarro.

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