FBI agent charged

FBI agent Joseph Astarita was indicted on federal charges of lying about whether he fired at a participant in the armed takeover and occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon last year. The indictment, kept secret until June 28, did not accuse Astarita of killing Robert Finicum—spokesperson for the occupiers—but said the FBI investigation indicated one of its agents had fired, but none of the FBI agents on the scene said they had done so. There is still an ongoing probe into whether the other agents participated in a coverup.

It can be a federal crime to “knowingly and willfully” make false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations or conceal information. The indictment said Astarita “falsely stated he had not fired his weapon during the attempted arrest of Robert LaVoy Finicum, when he knew then and there that he had fired his weapon.”

Malheur, once Paiute tribal territory, is located in eastern Oregon, south of Burns and about 140 miles north of the Nevada border. The occupation of the refuge was led by Nevada resident Ammon Bundy, who participated in the 2014 armed standoff at his father’s Clark County ranch.