Blaine Cooper, whose recruitment videos made him one of the more well-known Bundy militants, has pleaded guilty to one federal charge related to the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife preserve.
The 37-year-old Cooper is also expected to plead guilty to at least one of the 11 charges he faces in connection with the 2014 armed standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada, reported The Oregonian.
Cooper, who is from Humboldt, Arizona, could face a six-year prison term as part of the plea deal in Nevada.
He’s expected to get credit for the nearly five months he’s served in Oregon as part of a six-month recommended sentence, followed by another six months in a halfway house or home detention.
Cooper’s attorney asked the other militants to respect his decision to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy.
“He is very apologetic about his behavior,” said attorney Krista Shipsey. “He felt like a nobody, and this movement gave him a purpose in his life … The fame took over his senses.”
Federal prosecutors found no evidence that Cooper, a convicted felon, had a gun at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but he recorded videos with occupation leader Ammon Bundy encouraging others to bring weapons to the federally owned nature preserve.
A photo taken during the Bundy ranch standoff shows Cooper carrying a gun despite his conviction for domestic violence.
Cooper, whose real name is Stanley Blaine Hicks, has amassed more than a dozen felonies under his birth name and another felony under his chosen name — which is the name of Jesse Ventura’s character in the 1987 movie “Predator.”
Those include multiple counts of assault — both with and without a deadly weapon — and making threats, along with several alcohol- and traffic-related offenses, and militia members accused Cooper of stealing thousands of dollars of photography equipment from the border militia’s Camp Lone Star.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown asked Cooper to explain his actions in Oregon before accepting his guilty plea, and he said had traveled out of state to raise awareness for two ranchers who were sent back to prison after a judge ruled they had not completed their sentences for arson.
“Um, well, I felt that we had to protest, speak out against something evil that happened both against the Hammonds,” Cooper said. “I could see how calling people out to a refuge armed could be intimidating.”
Cooper is the seventh of 26 defendants to plead guilty in connection with the Oregon occupation, and he would be the first to accept a plea deal in connection with the Nevada standoff.
Federal prosecutors agreed as part of the plea deal not to charge Cooper in connection with another Oregon standoff, organized by the right-wing Oath Keepers gun group at Sugar Pine Mine in spring 2015.
Cooper agreed to pay restitution when that amount is determined, and he will be sentenced Nov. 18.