Friends of conservative activist Jerry DeLemus, who is in prison in connection with the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada, hope that President-elect Donald Trump can one day offer a reprieve.
“I’m hoping that he does step in and pardon him,” said state Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, a national leader in Trump’s veteran outreach campaign. “Jerry is an honorable guy.”
DeLemus, a state co-chairman of Trump’s veterans coalition, agreed to plead guilty Aug. 25 to two counts for his role in the armed standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada in April 2014.
DeLemus decided to withdraw his guilty plea after seven anti-government activists — including two Bundy brothers — were acquitted on Oct. 27 of conspiracy and weapons charges in Oregon.
Brian J. Smith, his attorney, returns to federal court today for a motion to withdraw as counsel, one step in DeLemus’ attempt to take back his plea.
“The reasons that Mr. DeLemus will cite as a basis for the withdrawal would almost certainly place his counsel in the position of being a witness at a hearing on the matter,” according to Smith’s motion. He refers to it as a clear conflict of interest.
If granted by the judge, another attorney would proceed with DeLemus’ motion to withdraw his plea. “It’s a high hurdle to get over in federal court,” Smith said in a phone interview.
Section C of the plea agreement reads: “The defendant will not seek to withdraw his guilty plea after he has entered it in court.”
In the March 2 indictment, DeLemus was labeled a “mid-level organizer.”
In the plea agreement, he admitted he was guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. government, and of a second count of interstate travel in aid of extortion. He and federal prosecutors agreed to a prison sentence of six years for the two counts.
Jack Kimball, a former state Republican Party chairman who is friends with DeLemus, has said DeLemus told him that the guilty plea was coerced by prosecutors, as the Union Leader reported last month.
A sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for Dec. 15.
The idea of Trump stepping in to help one of his supporters has come up before, but it is unclear where the future President will come in on the subject. He was critical of the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, telling the New York Times in an interview earlier this year that, “You cannot let people take over federal property.”
Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the President “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States.”
State Rep. Susan DeLemus, R-Rochester, did not have much news to add Tuesday as she follows her husband’s legal course from 2,800 miles away. She is a caregiver, and looks after her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Rep. DeLemus lost re-election last week by 106 votes to Democrat Chuck Grassie for the House seat representing Rochester’s Ward 4. She said she takes responsibility for the loss and remains grateful for those who voted for her, and for those who remain supportive of her husband.
Susan DeLemus said she is focusing on the court remedy for her husband, and declined to entertain immediate discussion of a presidential pardon.
“We just don’t know,” she said. “I don’t want to suppose.”