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DeLemus backers hope for release in light of Nevada case resolution

By DAVE SOLOMON
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 08. 2018 8:48PM
This screengrab shows Jerry DeLemus of Rochester in Bunkersville, Nev., just after the Cliven Bundy standoff in 2014. (YouTube)



The family and friends of a 62-year-old Rochester man serving a seven-year prison term for his role in a 2014 armed standoff in Nevada with federal agents now have new hope for his release.

A federal judge ruled Monday that the government could not retry Cliven Bundy and his sons after rebuking prosecutors for withholding evidence during their felony trial.

That was good news to Jerry DeLemus, who in August was moved from Nevada to a federal prison in Fort Devens, Mass. While the Bundys decided to take their chance in court, DeLemus pled guilty.

The co-chairman of President Trump’s 2016 N.H. Veterans Coalition, he was sentenced in 2016 to seven years and three months in prison for conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. and interstate travel in aid of extortion.

DeLemus left Rochester to join up with the Bundy armed standoff soon after it began and for more than a month, acted as go-between with local authorities.

Judge Gloria Navarro cited an attempt by DeLemus to withdraw his guilty plea and his lack of remorse as reasons for the long sentence.

Navarro last month declared a mistrial in the case against Cliven Bundy and his co-defendants, and on Monday dismissed it “with prejudice,” meaning prosecutors cannot retry the case. “The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated,” Navarro ruled.

Within hours of that ruling, DeLemus’s wife, former state Rep. Susan DeLemus, was on the phone with attorneys. She believes there’s a chance DeLemus could have his case and sentencing reconsidered, given the judge’s allegation of prosecutorial misconduct.

“I think it’s the only right thing to do,” she said. “The prosecution actually hid the ball. I was glad to see that the judge in the case saw through what the prosecution was trying to do.”

DeLemus’s attorneys are reviewing the ruling to see “what motions can be made or what paperwork needs to be filed,” according to Mrs. DeLemus, who was excited but cautious.

“I want to be guarded about being too excited about this, because we don’t know at this point,” she said. “But it could mean that he’s coming home soon. We are hoping and praying.”

Former state Republican Chair Jack Kimball, a Seacoast area businessman and one of DeLemus’s most ardent supporters, visited him recently in Massachusetts.

“He was in good spirits then, but he is going to be elated today,” said Kimball. “People like Jerry and others who answered the call from Cliven Bundy have been vindicated. They are all innocent people who took a stand for liberty and freedom, and many paid a terrible sacrifice. I think this will bode well for Jerry.”

Twice this year, Las Vegas juries acquitted or deadlocked on felony charges against Bundy supporters. Ammon Bundy, 42, and Ryan Bundy, 44, both beat federal felony charges in trials stemming from a 41-day standoff at an Oregon wildlife preserve two years ago.

Prosecutors alleged Bundy and his sons riled up supporters after the federal government came to remove grazing cattle from U.S. Bureau of Land Management property outside Bunkerville, Nev., in 2014.

The government said the Bundys’ incendiary language and actions led to the armed standoff outside the family’s ranch about an hour north of Las Vegas.

The case has fueled anger and mistrust among groups that view the federal government as overzealous and overreaching in using its power and authority to squash free speech and states’ rights.

dsolomon@unionleader.com; Material from Tribune Media was used in this report


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