Far-right militant Ammon Bundy arrested on outstanding warrant in long-running defamation case

The anti-government activist lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Idaho’s largest hospital network but has refused to acknowledge the judgment or a contempt charge for ignoring the court

Alex Woodward
Sunday 13 August 2023 18:54 BST
Related video: Jury decides penalty for Ammon Bundy’s St. Luke’s protest

Far-right anti-government militant Ammon Bundy was arrested in Idaho on 11 August on an outstanding warrant stemming from a long-running but since-resolved lawsuit against him.

Bundy, who staged standoffs with federal law enforcement in 2014 and 2016, was arrested after avoiding legal proceedings in the case over the last year, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

Idaho’s St Luke’s Health System had filed a defamation lawsuit against Bundy – who was immersed in protests against restrictions and public health guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic – after he falsely accused the state’s largest hospital network of kidnapping the grandson of an associate and running a “child trafficking ring,” according to St Luke’s.

A video posted to Bundy’s social media shows officers leading him away from his son’s high school football fundraiser in handcuffs.

Last month, a jury ruled against Bundy by default and ordered him to pay $26m as part of a broader judgment against him and other defendants in the case. In April, a judge levied a contempt of court charge against him for his failure to turn up in court.

He was booked into Gem County Jail on a $10,000 bond.

In a video posted to social media earlier this week, Bundy said he has been traveling while avoiding the warrant. Law enforcement had previously avoided serving him legal papers on his property out of concerns for officers’ safety.

“This idea that I am just holed up in my house and hiding behind a window sill with an AK-47 is just another great lie from our wonderful media,” he said. “So, I just wanted to dispel that.”

Gem County sheriff’s deputies had him in handcuffs the following day.

His supporters gathered outside the county jail urging his release.

A hospital spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Bundy is likely avoiding paying bond to “use his arrest and time in jail to further a false narrative that he is some kind of martyr.”

“Mr Bundy is not a martyr, he is a grifter who continues to grift his followers by asking them to shield him [from] paying damages and facing the contempt charges,” St Luke’s lawyer Erik Stidham told the outlet.

Ammon Bundy’s supporters are pictured gathering at his property in April 2023 as law enforcement sought to arrest him on a contempt of court charge connected to a defamation lawsuit that Bundy has refused to acknowledge.
Ammon Bundy’s supporters are pictured gathering at his property in April 2023 as law enforcement sought to arrest him on a contempt of court charge connected to a defamation lawsuit that Bundy has refused to acknowledge. (AP)

Bundy has denied wrongdoing, and after a jury delivered the multi-million verdict against him and others, he said he had no plans to turn over any assets or acknowledge the decision while vowing to appeal.

“I owe St Luke’s nothing,” he told the Idaho Stateman at the time. “I plan on doing what I have been doing. Providing for my family and living life as much as normal.”

On Friday, the hospital filed a new complaint accusing Bundy of hiding his assets in an effort to “frustrate” attempts to collect damages.

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