Trump pardons OR cattle ranchers in land dispute

Trump pardons OR cattle ranchers in land dispute

Trump pardons OR cattle ranchers in land dispute

President Trump on Tuesday granted pardons to father-and-son cattle ranchers in southeastern OR who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands.

In 2012, Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond were convicted of committing arson on federal land on two separate occasions. Most notably, members of another anti-government family, the Bundys, cited the Hammonds as their inspiration for facing down what they called an oppressive government when they occupied a national wildlife refuge in OR, setting up a weeks-long standoff that became front-page news in 2016.

After their lawyers argued against the five-year minimum sentence, a judge granted them much lighter terms - but federal prosecutors won an appeal and the Hammonds were required to serve the full five years.

"Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency", the White House said.

The Hammonds said they were using standard brush-control and land-management techniques, but the government said in at least one instance they were trying to hide evidence of their slaughtering a herd of deer.

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Their plight prompted Ammon and Ryan Bundy's Citizens for Constitutional Freedom to stage a protest, occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern OR from January 2 to February 11, 2016.

The White House noted Dwight Hammond is now 76 years old and has served approximately three years in prison. Steven Hammond, 49, has served roughly four. The pair had also coughed up $400,000 to settle a civil suit with the feds.

Prosecutors alleged in the indictment at the time that the Hammond family set fire to the rangeland after complaining the BLM was taking too long to complete required environmental studies before conducting controlled burn operations.

A full pardon grants broader absolution, which undercuts the dangerousness of setting fires and indicates that public land can be burned without effect, Weiss said. Another key occupier, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was fatally shot that day by Oregon State Police.

But after the Hammonds were released a Barack Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney named Amanda Marshall appealed the release and the two men were subsequently forced to return to prison when an appeals court ruled Hogan could not reduce the sentences.

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In 2016, as a result of their sentencing, Ammon Bundy gathered supporters and took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon.

The Malheur 7, as they came to be known, were later acquitted of the government's charges by a jury.

"Pardoning the Hammonds sends a risky message to America's park rangers, wildland firefighters, law enforcement officers, and public lands managers".

On Jan. 2, 2016, militants seized the headquarters of the wildlife refuge in Harney County to protest the Hammonds' prosecution and sentencing.

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