Gregory Burleson, a member of Arizona militia groups who participated in the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, was sentenced Wednesday to more than 68 years in federal prison.
During the standoff, which resulted in federal agents deserting an operation to round up rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle, Burleson was photographed with a long gun, moving around the sandy wash where Bureau of Land Management agents were headquartered.
After the standoff, he posted incendiary, anti-government messages on Facebook. “I was hell bent on killing federal agents that had turned their back on we the people,” he told an undercover FBI agent who posed as a documentary filmmaker in order to interview him.
“Yes, I said a lot of crazy things. I’m ashamed of them actually,” the 53-year-old Burleson said in court Wednesday. “Looking back at them, it’s like, ‘wow, obviously I shouldn’t drink.’”
Burleson was given two drinks before his undercover interview, and he told the judge several times Wednesday that he has a drinking problem. His health has deteriorated since the standoff in April 2014 — he now is blind, suffers from seizures, and requires the use of a wheelchair.
The 68-year-and-three-month sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro was markedly lower than the 87 years prosecutors had requested. Navarro took into account Burleson’s physical impairment and his alcoholism in reaching her decision. The term exceeds the sentence requested by defense lawyer Terrence Jackson, who asked the court to impose a sentence lower than the mandatory minimum of 57 years.
Burleson also was ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution to the government, to reimburse taxpayers for the labor and contractor costs of the failed cattle impoundment operation.
Burleson was convicted by jury in April of eight counts, which included assault, threats, extortion, obstruction of justice, and multiple gun charges.
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