Three months after the surrender of the last armed militants who took over an Oregon wildlife refuge in January, federal agents have arrested a self-styled journalist who had embedded with the occupiers.
Michael R. Emry, 54, was taken into custody by the FBI on Friday morning and later charged with illegal possession of an M-2 machine gun capable of firing up to 650 rounds a minute.
A federal judge in Eugene, Ore., ordered him detained as a risk to the community.
Emry calls himself the founder of the Voice of Idaho News, an Internet broadcaster. He recently relocated to John Day, Ore., where he was advising antigovernment protesters on ways to address their grievances.
During the 41-day standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Emry lobbied the media to understand the militants’ reasoning and passed out copies of the Constitution to law enforcement officers.
The criminal complaint against him and a search warrant in the case make no reference to his role in the occupation. Nor do they explain how officials learned about the machine gun he allegedly had stashed under a bed in his trailer.
An item on his news site said he was arrested after being called to his RV park’s office, where federal agents were waiting.
The news report went on to allege that agents then searched his trailer while they forced a woman who maintains the website to wait outside in her bathrobe for three hours. “She said they tore everything up and took their computer hardware, disks,” it said.
Emry admitted to taking the illegal weapon from an Idaho shop where he worked, according to FBI Agent Miguel Perez, who said that “prior to bringing it to Oregon, Emry obliterated the serial number.”
It is not Emry's first run-in with authorities over guns. In a 2004 Tennessee case in which he testified under oath but was never charged, Emry told prosecutors that he was a self-taught expert in making and modifying weapons.
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He admitted to providing 66 machine guns to a single buyer who was preparing for civil unrest in the U.S. and assembling a bomb that was intended to kill a cocaine dealer but ultimately was never used.
Emry was the 28th Oregon refuge occupier taken into custody.
The standoff began as a show of sympathy for antigovernment ranchers who were headed for prison on arson charges, and ended after Oregon state troopers shot and killed one protester, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who investigators said had attempted to draw his weapon.
The occupation has cost taxpayers an estimated $9 million in damages and law enforcement expenses.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the brothers who led the occupation, remain in federal custody. They were also indicted — along with their father, Cliven Bundy, and two other brothers, David and Melvin — on charges related to a 2014 standoff with federal agents at the elder Bundy's ranch in Nevada.
In a motion filed last week to dismiss his case, Ammon Bundy claimed the U.S. government lacks jurisdiction over the federal wildlife refuge the militants occupied.
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