Granite Staters supportive of Jerry DeLemus expressed outrage that he was denied a chance to withdraw a guilty plea in connection with the Cliven Bundy standoff in 2014.
“She should be wearing orange, not black,” friend Jack Kimball said of the judge on the case. “The whole system is ridiculous.”
Kimball, a former state Republican Party chairman, views DeLemus as a “political prisoner.”
DeLemus, a local Tea Party leader from Rochester, served as a co-chairman of Donald Trump’s New Hampshire veterans coalition during the 2016 campaign.
He now awaits a sentencing May 31 in Nevada. Per the plea deal he originally struck last August, he may serve up to six years in federal prison.
His supporters, who gathered at a rally at the State House in late April, have written letters to Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a request for some intervention for those facing charges related to the Bundy standoff. DeLemus’ friends have previously expressed hope that the President would weigh in, possibly with a pardon.
State Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, one of Trump’s three campaign co-chairmen in the state, said Tuesday he planned to write the attorney general about the case.
“Give the guy a fair hearing, at least,” said Doucette, who also sat on Trump’s veterans coalition. “It doesn’t make sense. It’s just plain wrong.”
FBI agents stormed DeLemus’ house and arrested him on March 3, 2016. The indictment called him a “mid-level leader and organizer of the conspiracy” at the Bundy ranch. The standoff there escalated after the rancher’s long-held defiance of federal court orders to remove his cattle from public lands.
DeLemus first traveled to Nevada on April 10, 2014, and he was the first of 19 defendants in the case to accept a plea. Kimball told the Union Leader late last year that DeLemus told him he signed the plea deal out of coercion, or threat that federal agents would come after his family.
Kimball said Tuesday that DeLemus said in court last year that the charges related to his plea deal were a lie.
The bid to withdraw his plea agreement came after seven people who took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon were found not guilty in that standoff.
Late last month, Judge Gloria Navarro, the same judge presiding over DeLemus’ case, declared a mistrial in a case against four men accused of conspiracy in connection with the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff. A new trial for those four, and a trial for Cliven Bundy, is scheduled to begin in late June.