Sheriff Warns Hage of Possible Cattle Confiscation and Arrest

August 17, 2004

News Release from Nevada Live Stock Association

NYE COUNTY, NEVADA - According to Nye County Sheriff, Tony DeMeo, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in the midst of finalizing post-trial briefs in a thirteen-year old lawsuit with Nye County rancher, Wayne Hage, and in a move of apparent direct defiance of the several recent court decisions, are preparing to confiscate Hage’s cattle on his ranch in Nye County, Nevada. Hage was notified Friday by Sheriff DeMeo, that Bob Abby, Nevada BLM Director, had told him that despite ongoing litigation, the BLM could move forward with the confiscation unless they receive a cease and desist order from the Court.

Alf Brandt, Interior Department Solicitor, and one of the Government’s attorneys in the May Hage v. U.S. compensation trial in Reno, Nevada stated in a July 30, 2004 letter to Sheriff DeMeo that the, “BLM actions may result in Mr. Hage’s appearance in federal court, which may provide him the opportunity to again present his legal theories and allow the federal court to adjudicate these issues.” Brandt’s letter also contained thinly veiled threats to arrest Hage.

Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service hand-delivered a three-day notice to Hage to remove livestock from the lands the U. S. Court of Federal Claims determined in its 2002 Final Decision and Finding of Fact to be “fee lands” to which Hage holds title. (“Fee” means the inheritable right to use.)

Sheriff DeMeo commented on the governments actions, “It is inexplicable to me why, after thirteen years of litigation, the BLM and Forest Service seem so anxious to go after Hage now. But there definitely seems to be an intensity building in this county and I expect them to try something. I have instructed my deputies to protect Constitutional rights of the citizens of Nye County, even if the perpetrator is the federal government,” he added.

Concerned about a Ruby Ridge-style government “arrest”, today, Hage forwarded a letter to Sheriff DeMeo stating that he believes the government’s efforts to create a “confrontation” with him is a move of desperation on the part of the agencies as a result evidence that surfaced at his trial in Reno in May.

The U.S. Forest Service, BLM, and southern Nevada water interests were implicated in a “conspiracy”, according to court transcripts, to bankrupt the Hages in order to obtain the abundant Pine Creek Ranch water for the benefit of Southern Nevada interests. In his letter, Hage stated that, “....I believe Alf W. Brandt, as solicitor for the BLM Department of Interior, would like to find a way to eliminate me at the hands of some (federal) ‘Law Enforcement’ personnel.”

In the thirteen-year Fifth Amendment of the Constitution “takings” lawsuit in the U. S. Court of Federal Claims between the Hage family and the federal government, Hage has prevailed in all court rulings to date. In 1991, the federal government, in an attempt to derail Hage’s civil “takings” case, attempted to prosecute him for destruction of government property. The case was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nevada Live Stock Association Director, Ramona Morrison, remarked about the May trial. “The government’s case faltered dramatically during the compensation trial. Every government witness was roundly impeached or discredited during cross examination. Facing the potential of incurring enormous damages in a ruling expected after the October closing arguments in Reno, and numerous “takings” cases brought by other ranchers who have found themselves in similar circumstances as Hage, the U. S. Forest Service and BLM have little chance at damage control. They may be acting in desperation to intimidate other ranchers from similar attempts to seek compensation when federal government takes their property.”

Government Solicitor, Alf Brandt, justifies his actions in his letter to Sheriff DeMeo by stating that Hage is failing to keep his cattle on the forage of the 50-foot right-of-ways. Hage commented from his ranch, “The government argues that I must contain my cattle on 50-feet of either side of my 1866 ditch rights-of-ways, some of which are natural creeks. I defy anyone to show me where the Court has said that in any of the three published Decisions or in the one court Order. Yet this is their justification for seeking my arrest. The government refuses to recognize that I am not a trespasser on my own ranch.”

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Tony DeMeo, Nye County Sheriff 775.751.7000

Ramona Morrison 775.424.0570

Wayne Hage 775.482.4187

Ladd Bedford, Esq., Attorney for Hage 415.905.0200

Nevada Live Stock Association

9732 State Route 445, #305

Sparks, NV 89436


FAX 775.424.0571



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