‘Veterans for Trump’ campaign co-chair due in court for role in Bundy standoff
Federal prosecutors on Monday are expected to seek the continued detention of a New Hampshire man said to be a “midlevel organizer” in a high-profile 2014 armed standoff in Nevada over cattle grazing rights.
Jerry DeLemus is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Concord on charges that he was an active participant in the confrontation with federal agents at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy.
DeLemus was one of 14 people arrested last week in connection with the standoff. Nineteen people, including Bundy and two of his sons, have been indicted in the case.
DeLemus co-chairs the New Hampshire “Veterans for Trump” coalition organized by the presidential campaign of Republican candidate and businessman Donald Trump.
He made headlines in January when he traveled to remote eastern Oregon to meet with armed protesters who had taken over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The occupiers were led by Ammon Bundy, another son of Cliven Bundy.
DeLemus said at the time that he was acting on his own and not as a representative of the Trump campaign.
The defendants in the Nevada case face charges including assault on a federal agent, threatening a law enforcement officer, conspiracy and firearms violations.
In court papers, prosecutors called DeLemus a gunman and midlevel organizer “who joined in a conspiracy to commit an unprecedented and extremely violent and massive armed assault on federal law enforcement officers.”
But DeLemus’ defense lawyer said in court documents that his client traveled to Nevada “not as an instigator or provocateur, but as someone who sought to keep things peaceful.” He also said DeLemus went to Oregon to try to “talk down” the protesters.
The lawyer requested DeLemus’ release on bail.
DeLemus drew national media attention in June when he proposed holding a contest to draw Muhammad, the prophet in Islam.
DeLemus’ wife Susan is a Republican state legislator in New Hampshire. She has generated controversy of her own, posting on Facebook last month that Pope Francis was “the anti-Christ.”
At a preliminary hearing on Friday, supporters of DeLemus sang “God Bless America” as he was led out of the courtroom.
Prosecutors are expected to ask to extradite DeLemus to Nevada to face trial.
The Bundy ranch standoff began when federal agents seized his cattle over unpaid grazing fees.
Militia groups rallied to Bundy’s defense. Following a brief armed standoff, the government released the cattle it had seized.
(Reporting by Ted Siefer; Editing by Joseph Ax and Lisa Von Ahn)