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2 Convicted Of Conspiracy In Trial Of Second Group Of Oregon Occupiers

Two of the armed occupiers who took over a wildlife refuge last year have been convicted on felony conspiracy charges, member station Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Two other participants in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon were found guilty on lesser felonies.

The four men — Jason Patrick and Darryl Thorn, Jake Ryan and Duane Ehmer — were all charged with conspiring to keep federal employees from doing their jobs. Patrick and Thorn were found guilty of that crime, while Ryan and Ehmer were convicted on lesser charges.

All four occupiers were seen as "less prominent players" in the 41-day occupation of the refuge, compared with other participants, OPB's Conrad Wilson reports.

The actual leaders of the occupation, including brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, went to trial last year — and, in a surprising verdict, were all found not guilty of conspiracy.

The verdicts announced on Friday mark a "stark contrast" to that trial, Wilson writes.

Wilson has more on the latest trial:

"During closing arguments in this trial, the government acknowledged there was no signed document or recording that showed the occupiers' goal was to prevent federal employees from going to work. But federal prosecutors argued there was more than enough circumstantial evidence for jurors to conclude there was a conspiracy to block federal workers from their jobs at the refuge. ...

"The government's case relied heavily on testimony from law enforcement — largely FBI agents — but also several federal employees who worked at the refuge.

"Agents testified about their roles in processing evidence at the refuge, response to the occupation and follow-up investigations. Refuge employees talked about the work they weren't able to do because of the occupation, as well as the deep sense of fear they felt in the weeks leading up to and throughout the occupation."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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