Former gubernatorial candidate pleads guilty to trespassing at Idaho hospital

Ammon Bundy, a former candidate for Idaho governor and founder of the activist People's Rights Network, pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to trespassing outside St. Luke's Meridian (Idaho) Medical Center, according to Idaho Reports.

Mr. Bundy made the plea deal in connection with his arrest last year. He was arrested and charged with trespassing in March 2022 after protesting with others over hospital and police actions related to the then 10-month-old grandson of Diego Rodriguez, a consultant for Mr. Bundy's campaign, according to NBC affiliate KTVB. The infant, who was first treated earlier in March 2022 for severe malnourishment and discharged March 4, 2022, was placed in the custody of the state after police said his parents failed to bring him to follow-up medical appointments. According to Idaho Reports, the child was returned to his parents less than a week later. 

Mr. Bundy was set to proceed with a trial on the trespassing charge this week. However, he instead pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, according to Idaho Reports. The judge suspended 78 of those  90 days,  and he was credited for 12 days of time served. He will serve one year of unsupervised probation and was fined $1,157, according to Idaho Reports, which cites court records. This means he won't serve more time in jail unless he violates the terms of his probation.

In response to the plea, the hospital shared the following statement with Becker's: "As the victim of the trespass, St. Luke’s only has the right to be informed of plea negotiations. St. Luke's did respond to an inquiry by the court as to whether the proposed plea was sufficient from St. Luke's perspective; St. Luke's perspective was that, in light of the seriousness of the disruption and repeat nature of the offense, Bundy should have faced harsher punishment. Nevertheless, St. Luke's does note that, after almost a year of falsely denying his crime, Bundy admitted guilt."

A statement posted Jan. 21 to Mr. Bundy's "Keep Idaho Idaho" website called on people to support him during the trial and called his charge an example of political retaliation. He subsequently posted an update about his plea deal.

"I made a peace offering to St. Luke's executives and settled the criminal case outside of court," he wrote. "...I have never done this before and it is certainly not my style. I prayed and pondered about this move for many days. I did not purger myself and kept this agreement within the moral boundaries that all of us must live by as children of God. This was not an act done in fear or desperation. This agreement will become official on [Jan. 23], so I will not be having a trial anymore. There is no need for people to come to the courthouse to support me in trial any longer."

He also added that "making this agreement in the criminal case is an effort to extend an olive branch to St. Luke's executives. To show that I simply want to be left alone."

Mr. Bundy also faces a lawsuit filed by Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System. The health system initially filed the lawsuit in May 2022 related to a March 2022 protest over Mr. Rodriguez's grandson that prompted St. Luke's Hospital in Boise to go on lockdown and divert ambulances.

St. Luke's told Becker's the civil case is separate from the criminal case. 

"St. Luke’s intends to pursue its civil claims through trial," the hospital said. "Mr. Bundy's wrongful conduct and lies terrorized medical care professionals and shut down hospital operations twice. Moreover, Bundy took these actions just so that he could generate publicity for  and donations to his political campaign. St. Luke's is committed to seeking justice and committed to deterring similar attacks against hospitals in the future."

 

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