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Tag: Oregon

Oregon Jury Acquits FBI Agent of Lying About Firing Weapon in Death of Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by police during the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors took a big hit on Friday in a Portland, Ore., courtroom.

A federal jury found FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita not guilty after about six hours of deliberations over two days. He was accused of lying to conceal that he fired two shots at the truck of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in January 2016.

Astarita, 41, a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, looked straight ahead but squeezed the hands of defense lawyers Robert Cary and Meghan Ferguson sitting on either side of him as the court clerk read the verdicts about 2:45 p.m., according to a report in The Oregonian newspaper.

Once the jury left, the attorneys hugged Astarita.

A 37-year-old married father of two from a Portland suburb who sat the jury told Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian:

“I feel it’s possible someone is lying. I don’t know which side, or who, or it could be both. There’s still two unattributed shots, and I feel like we’re never going to know for sure who took them.”

He also said he “felt like a pendulum going back and forth during the trial — from ‘oh man, he definitely did it’ and then ‘well, maybe, he didn’t.”’

 

Jury Acquits FBI Agent Accused of Firing Gun During Oregon Standoff

FBI photo of the shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during the 2016 armed standoff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A federal jury has acquitted an FBI agent accused of lying to investigators about whether he fired his gun twice at a militia elder involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The jury on Friday found Agent Joseph Astarita not guilty of obstruction and making false statements.

The 41-year-old agent repeatedly denied he fired his weapon at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum because he was worried about crossfire.

Astarita’s attorney, David Angeli, told CNN that prosecutors lacked eyewitness and ballistic evidence that would show the agent fired his service weapon in during the 2016 standoff. 

“We are grateful to the men and women of the jury who saw through a case that never should have been brought,” Angeli and another defense attorney Rob Cary said in a statement.

At the time of the alleged shooting, the FBI was told to hold fire while local and state law enforcement handled Finicum, who led police on a chase in his pickup and was then shot by state police after he appeared to reach for his gun.

The jury was focused on who fired two errant shots, not who killed Finicum because the deadly force was deemed justified.

Astarita’s lawyers argued that alleged evidence against the agent was the result of lies from the “reckless” actions of one Oregon State Police trooper who fired most of the shots and later changed his story.

Court Battle Begins in Portland for FBI Agent Accused of Lying About Firing His Weapon

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

 The court battle began this week between the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland, Ore., and FBI agent Joseph Astarita who is charged with lying about firing his rifle at Robert LaVoy Finicum in the moments before the rancher was killed by state police on a rural Oregon highway.

In opening statements Wednesday, the Washington Post reports, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman told jurors that Astarita’s two shots were covered up by officers on the scene — and that aerial footage captured from two FBI planes will show officers picking up items in the snow near where the victim lay.

Defense attorney Robert Cary suggested to jurors those two shots could have come from Oregon state troopers as well as Astarita’s supervisor. “What does the government have?” Cary asked, noting that there were no other eyewitnesses or ballistic evidence, the Post reported.

Astarita has denied firing his weapon.

Trial Starts This Week in Oregon for FBI Agent Accused of Lying About Firing His Gun

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was the spokesman of the occupation. Via YouTube.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

On Tuesday, FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita, 41, who was part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team deployed out of Quantico, Vayears old, will stand trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., on charges of making false statements and obstruction of justice related to the 2016 fatal shooting of Robert LaVoy Finicum, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Finicum had served as a spokesman for Ammon Bundy, the leader of an armed occupation in 2016 of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.  He was fatally shot by Oregon state troopers, but federal prosecutors allege that Astarita fired two shots, which hindered the police probe into the incident.

Astarita has denied that he fired the shots and his defense team has insisted the evidence is flimsy at best.

Recently, the federal judge in the case tossed two of the five counts.

 

FBI Renews Search for Long-Sought Child Molestation Suspect

Age-progressed photo of what Barrett Preston Busschau may look like today.

Age-progressed photo of what Barrett Preston Busschau may look like today.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is renewing its search for a long-sought fugitive who was charged in 1993 with molesting five girls between the ages of 10 and 15.

Barrett Preston Busschau, now 42, has been on the loose since he was awaiting trial on numerous charges of sexual assault. He disappeared from Oregon in 1993.

The FBI produced an age-progressed photo of what Busschau may look like now and posted the image and information on its fugitive website. https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/cac/barrett-preston-busschau

A native of South Africa, Busschau had been living in the U.S. since 1984 as a legal resident. Authorities believe he may have fled to California, Panama or South Africa.

Oregon Man Charged After Calling FBI 752 Times And Making Threats

phoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 45-year-old Oregon man accused of calling the FBI phone line 752 times since December 2015 and leaving threats for agents is facing a federal criminal charge.

Authorities said Shawn Fredrick Weatherhead of Eugene called the line in April and declared, “I have a legal right to start killing you people. And I’m going to,” The Oregonian reports. 

On April 2, Weatherfield added in a message, “I’m going to start killing people.”

Weatherman was charged with interstate communication of a threat to injure another person, according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

It’s not the first time Weatherman was charged for making inappropriate calls to a law enforcement agency. In June 2015, he was sentenced to 10 days of jail after pleading guilty to five counts of telephonic harassment. A condition of his probation was that he not have contact with any law enforcement agency unless it’s an emergency.

Occupiers of Oregon Wildlife Refuge Found Not Guilty in Jury Trial

Burns, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located.

Burns, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The trial involving seven people who participated in the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon ended Thursday with each defendant found not guilty of federal conspiracy charges.

Judge Anna Brown announced that the defendants – the standoff’s leader, Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan and five others – were not guilty of conspiracy to impede federal officers and not guilty of possession of firearms in a federal facility, the Washington Post reports. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, expressed disappointment over the jury’s decision.

“The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Defendant Shawna Cox said the acquittal was a victory for the Constitution.

“We have to be vigilant people,” she told reporters. “Wake up, America, and help us restore the Constitution. Don’t sleep with your head in the sand.”

FBI Used 15 Confidential Sources for Information on Armed Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Burns, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located.

Burns, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI used 15 confidential sources for information from their contacts with occupiers during the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, according to a prosecutor in the case.

Now Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford wants the court to force prosecutors to reveal the identities of the informants in the federal conspiracy trail against his client and six co-defendants, the Oregonian reports. 

“We’re being prosecuted based on the collective actions of others,” Mumford argued.

Two of the 15 defendants have been identified during trial as Terri Linnel, who was called as a defense witness, and Mark McConnel, who was driving with Ammon Bundy when he was arrested on Jan. 26.

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown requested the government disclose to her the unreacted reports from the 15 informants.

The sources resulted in 129 reports, which the judge plans to review before determining whether to release the sources’ names and other information.

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