FBI agents posed as journalists and tricked the Bundy ranching family and their supporters into giving on-camera interviews that prosecutors may use in upcoming trials, according to defense attorneys and court records.
The FBI's "fake film production company" and "wide-reaching deceptive undercover operation", as lawyers described it in a court filing, is one of multiple controversies that some say could derail the government's prosecution of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his four sons and a dozen of their followers. A recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ethics scandal involving tickets for the popular Burning Man festival could further hinder prosecutors in the high-profile trial, which began this week in Las Vegas federal court.
The case stems from the Bundy family's infamous 2014 standoff with federal agents at their ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. The 70-year-old patriarch became a hero to conservative cowboys in the west when he publicly refused to pay grazing fees to the federal government, arguing that the BLM has no right to regulate lands by his property.