President Trump pardoned a father and son from Oregon on Tuesday who were imprisoned after setting fire to federal land during what were intended to be controlled burns. The imprisonment – which followed a multi-decade feud with the federal government, resulted in approximately 100-150 armed militia members taking control of a closed wildlife park headquarters in a 41-day standoff led by three brothers from the Cliven Bundy family. Read more about the case here.
76-year-old Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond, 49, were convicted of arson in 2012 for fires burned on federal land in 2001 and 2006 and originally sentenced to three months and one year respectively.
In October 2015, however, an appellate judge ruled that the sentences were too short based on federal minimum sentencing laws of five years, and re-sentenced to serve out the longer terms.
The resentencing sparked protests led by the cattle ranching Bundy family and others, who took up arms and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Southeastern Oregon ranch owned by the Hammonds from Jan 2 to Febn 11, 2016.
During the standoff, FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita reportedly began firing off shots during the arrest of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. The agent was later accused of falsely denying he fired the shots at Finicum or his truck, and pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and three counts of making a false statement.
Finicum was killed in the incident.
“The Hammonds are multi-generation cattle ranchers in Oregon imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land,” the White House said in a statement. “The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges.”
“Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency,” the statement also reads.
Dwight has so far served about three years in prison and Steven has served about four years. They have also paid $400,000 to the United States to settle a related civil suit. –Fox News
This marks Trump’s 7th and 8th pardon or commutation since taking office – the first being Arizona sheriff Joseph Arpaio. Other recipients of a pardon or commutation include; “Scooter” Libby, Dinesh D’Souza, and Kristian Mark Saucier – a former US Navy sailor who was convicted of unauthorized retention of national defense information and sentenced to one year in prison for taking photographs of classified engineering areas of nuclear attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN-757).