Arizona man Joseph O'Shaughnessy pleads guilty in Oregon standoff case

Posted at 3:01 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 18:01:28-04

An Arizona man who took part in a pair of armed standoffs over federal land policy has pleaded guilty to a charge in Oregon and is expected to do the same in Nevada.

Joseph O'Shaughnessy, 44, acknowledged in court Monday that he conspired to prevent U.S. Interior Department employees from doing their jobs after ranchers and others took over a national wildlife refuge this winter near Burns, Oregon.

O'Shaughnessy said he didn't participate in the occupation led by Ammon Bundy but felt a duty to provide security for those protesting federal control of public lands and the imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers.

"I did support their message," he said, becoming the 10th of 26 defendants to plead guilty in Oregon.

Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence on the low end of a 12- to 18-month range, and it will be served at the same time as the term he could receive for his role in a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents at a Nevada ranch owned by Ammon Bundy's father, Cliven Bundy, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said.

Portland defense attorney Amy Baggio confirmed that O'Shaughnessy has a plea deal with prosecutors in Nevada and that resolving the Oregon case was part of the agreement.

O'Shaughnessy's attorney in Nevada, Andrea Luem, did not return a phone message seeking details about the plea there.

Prosecutors in Nevada have described O'Shaughnessy as a midlevel organizer of the confrontation at Cliven Bundy's ranch. The defendants there are accused of conspiring to assault federal officials who were rounding up Bundy's cattle over unpaid grazing fees.

In Oregon, the 16 defendants who have not pleaded guilty are awaiting their day in court. Half of them, including brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are scheduled to stand trial starting Sept. 7. The rest were granted a trial delay until Feb. 14, 2017.