Pardoned Oregon ranchers leave prison, fly home in private jet

By Susan McFarland  |  July 12, 2018 at 2:35 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

July 12 (UPI) -- Two days after they were pardoned by President Donald Trump, Oregon cattle ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond flew home on a private jet Thursday.

The pair were convicted of setting fires on federal land in a fight against the government, which ultimately sparked the 2016 occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon.

They were convicted in 2012 under a domestic terrorism law, after having served several months in jail for the same offense.

Dwight Hammond, 76, served about three years in prison and son Steven Hammond, 49, about four years. The two paid $400,000 to the Bureau of Land Management to settle a related civil suit.

A video on the Facebook page of Protect the Harvest, a group created to defend farmers and ranchers, shows Dwight and Steven Hammond as they arrived in Burns, Ore. Both were thankful to Trump and others who supported them through what they termed a "roller coaster."

Steven Hammond said they are "doing a lot of decompressing" as they get back to their families.

The private jet was provided by oil executive and Indianapolis Colts supporter Forrest Lucas, who flew to California Thursday to pick up the Hammonds.

When asked how it feels to return to Oregon, Dwight Hammond said he "can't wait to be back in boots after wearing prison tennis shoes."

Tuesday, Trump said evidence at the Hammonds' trial demonstrating their culpability was conflicting. He also said the jury acquitted them on most charges.

The Hammonds' imprisonment sparked a protest in January 2016 by Ammon Bundy and others, who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Ore., for 40 days. They argued the Hammonds were victims of federal overreach.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories