The nearly five-year saga of the confrontation between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management has drawn to a close with the sentencing of the final defendant.
Brian "Booda" Cavalier, 47, of Mesa, Arizona, who was described as Bundy’s bodyguard, was told by Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro his sentence was reduced to time served. Cavalier spent more than 20 months in federal custody between his arrest in early 2016 and his guilty plea in October 2017 to two charges of conspiracy to impede and injure a federal officer.
“I’d just like to put this behind me,” Cavalier told the judge.
Navarro credited Cavalier with taking responsibility and pleading guilty months before Navarro found "flagrant" prosecutorial misconduct and dismissed the case against other defendants a year ago.
Cavalier was the last of 19 defendants involved in the 2014 standoff at Bundy’s Nevada ranch that began when the BLM seized Bundy’s cattle in an attempt to force him to pay decades of back grazing fees on federal land. Bundy claimed he did not owe the fees because he inherited water rights on the land. At the height of the standoff in April 2014, hundreds of antigovernment activists, many of them carrying guns, rallied to Bundy’s cause, until the confrontation ended with the withdrawal of federal agents.
Most of the 19 defendants spent nearly two years in federal custody awaiting trial on charges that could have gotten them decades in prison, including conspiracy, threatening and assaulting federal officers, firearm offenses, obstruction and extortion.
Prosecutors failed to gain full convictions in 2017 in two jury trials against six defendants who carried assault-style weapons during the confrontation 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
In the end, five defendants pleaded guilty before trial, several were acquitted of all counts and some were convicted of lesser charges. Two are in prison, appealing their sentences. Most were let go for time already served.
Navarro also sentenced Cavalier to one year of federal supervision, ordered him to undergo substance abuse treatment and prohibited him from communicating with other people connected with the standoff.
Cavalier also pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in Oregon and was sentenced in 2016 to time already served in federal custody in Portland for his role in a 41-day armed occupation of a wildlife refuge with more than two dozen people including Bundy sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy in January 2016.