In this file photo, Ammon Bundy announces his candidacy for governor of Idaho during a campaign event on June 19, 2021. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Correction: This story has been updated to state how the grandchild of Diego Rodriguez was brought under temporary protective care.
After being sued Friday afternoon a second time by St. Luke’s Health System, anti-government activist Ammon Bundy was arrested that evening on a contempt of court warrant stemming from his first lawsuit from the health system.
Bundy was arrested Friday night, posted bail early Sunday morning and appeared in court in a temporary restraining order hearing on Monday to address the second lawsuit filed by St. Luke’s, which alleges Bundy has made fraudulent property transfers to evade collection of $26 million in damages awarded to the hospital system in its initial lawsuit against him, People’s Rights Network and his campaign for governor.
At the Monday hearing in Gem County, District Judge Brent Whiting ordered Bundy, his wife Lisa Bundy, associated group People’s Rights Network and Bundy’s campaign for governor to not transfer any property over the next two weeks and limit their cash expenses to under $5,000.
Whiting has also scheduled a hearing to consider a more lasting preliminary injunction in the new lawsuit later this month.
“Mr. Bundy, on behalf of himself and his entities, has made clear he’ll do whatever it takes, including apparently arming himself at his front door to prevent my clients to collect on their judgements,” attorney Bob Faucher, representing St. Luke’s and three of its employees harassed by Bundy and his associates, told the judge. “My clients and their attorneys will not be intimidated, and so we are going to try to collect on their judgements. And this is the first stage of doing that.”
Hearing not yet scheduled for Bundy’s contempt of court case
Bundy and his former campaign treasurer, who attorneys allege Bundy sold his home to for one-quarter of its $1 million value, showed up in court Monday.
Bundy was released from jail around 1:30 a.m. Sunday on a $10,000 bond, Sgt. White, with the Gem County Sheriff’s Office, told the Idaho Capital Sun. White declined to share his first name.
Bundy is due back in Ada County Court on his contempt case for arraignment at 10 a.m. Aug. 29. If he does not show up, he will forfeit his $10,000 bond and a bench warrant will be issued for his arrest, court records show.
Bundy’s contempt case would be handled by District Judge Nancy Baskin. Baskin presided over the jury trial for the original lawsuit last month. She has not yet issued a judgment confirming the amounts owed, which would allow the hospital system’s attorneys to begin to collect the damages awarded.
Bundy, in a tweet Sunday night, said he made it home, and thanked people for their prayers.
“I wonder if they will ever leave my family alone? This could happen to you…,” he said, linking to a video about the case.
At Monday’s proceedings, Bundy said he felt attacked.
“The largest corporation in Idaho is attacking me because I’m exposing them. … I do not see how I could go up against this monster in court,” Bundy said.
In a text message to the Idaho Capital Sun, Bundy said St. Luke’s leadership is spreading a message.
“They are informing all of Idaho that if you speak out against them, they will put you in jail, turn your life upside down, take everything you own and chase your finances for the rest of your life,” Bundy wrote. “They have the resources to get the law to destroy your life and they want everyone to know it.”
Bundy, associate Diego Rodriquez failed to show up to court proceedings for original St. Luke’s lawsuit
Bundy and his associate Diego Rodriguez did not attend the two-week long jury trial in Ada County for the first lawsuit, where a jury ordered the two and groups linked to them to pay $52.5 million in damages to St. Luke’s Health System and three employees they defamed, or made false, damaging statements about.
The original lawsuit against Bundy, Rodriguez and groups linked to them revolved around their in-person protests and online messages targeting medical professionals and others after a primary care provider unaffiliated with the hospital contacted the state health department, which triggered a search by law enforcement. That resulted in an infant related to Rodriquez being placed under temporary protective care.
Bundy has argued that the baby was healthy, but several doctors testified in court during the lawsuit trial last month that the baby showed signs of being malnourished, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported.
Bundy and Rodriguez were issued contempt of court arrest warrants before the jury trial for the original lawsuit.
Bundy faces new lawsuit after ‘sham’ home sale
Attorneys for St. Luke’s Health System, in a new, related lawsuit filed on Friday, requested a new jury trial to overturn “fraudulent” property transactions that Bundy has allegedly made in attempts to hide his financial assets to make it more difficult for the hospital system to collect damages.
The suit is filed in Gem County, where Bundy lives. St. Luke’s is suing Bundy, Bundy’s wife, Bundy for Governor, People’s Rights Network and an LLC who the Bundys allegedly sold their home to for one-quarter of its market value and then rented it back from them.
The lawsuit alleges the Bundys have transferred all of their assets besides about $50,000 worth after the hospital system sued the first time.
Bundy and his wife sold their 4,760-square-foot home in Emmett to a business owned by a friend in their church, the lawsuit claims.
The Bundys continued to rent the home, the lawsuit alleges, with attorneys calling it a “sham transaction.” The health system’s attorneys argue in the new lawsuit that when Bundy sold his home around late 2022, he “entered into a scheme to frustrate” the hospital’s ability to collect damages.
The Bundys, according to the lawsuit, sold the home and a five-acre parcel of land valued at over $1 million by the Gem County assessor for $250,000 to White Barn, an LLC that’s owned in part by Aaron Welling, who served as treasurer for Bundy’s campaign for governor. Bundy used the sale funds to pay off debt that he owed on the property, the lawsuit alleges.
Bundy’s wife, Lisa, then signed a five-year lease for the property with a monthly rent of $2,620, the lawsuit says.
The Bundy home was placed under a lien Nov. 10, 2022, after a court ordered more than $5,000 in sanctions against Bundy.
Bundy “has transferred and hidden assets or directed others to transfer and hide assets” of his campaign for governor and the People’s Rights Network, including directing money to businesses owned and controlled by Bundy himself and Rodriguez, the lawsuit alleges.
Bundy told the court on Monday that his campaign, Bundy for Governor, was closed last year and that People’s Rights Network is a network of people, but no one owns it and “there is no organization, legal structure there.”
The health system’s attorneys in the new lawsuit asked the court to void the sale and lease of the Bundy home, and to block the Bundys or other parties being sued from “transferring, hiding, or conveying any assets” to evade collection of the first lawsuit.
Bundy earns money for himself and the People’s Rights Network through the business Dono Custos, which he owns or controls, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit estimates that if each of the People’s Rights Network’s 60,000 plus followers contribute $50 a year to Dono Custos, Bundy could earn more than $3 million each year. Bundy’s campaign for governor has also paid a business he owns or controls, named Abish-husbondi, tens of thousands of dollars each year, the lawsuit alleges.
Those companies are not affected by the court’s temporary restraining order.
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