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Idaho judge gives Bundy deadline as St. Luke’s seeks to void home sale, collect damages

Ammon Bundy walks out of the Ada County Courthouse in August.  (Sarah A. Miller)
By Sally Krutzig Idaho Statesman

BOISE – After improperly filing court documents, far-right activist Ammon Bundy has 10 days to refile before he essentially forfeits a fraud case, according to a new judicial ruling.

The documents pertained to a civil suit filed in August by St. Luke’s, part of an attempt to collect monetary damages that a jury ruled Bundy owes the health system and some staff members for defamation.

St. Luke’s has asked 3rd District Judge Brent Whiting to undo the sale of Bundy’s home, alleging that it was done illegally for the express purpose of putting an asset beyond a creditor’s reach, which is considered a fraudulent conveyance under the law. The judge could retroactively void the sale if he rules against Bundy.

Bundy is at risk of having that happen by default after he failed to defend himself in the civil case, did not appear at a hearing held Monday and filed paperwork prior to that without paying the proper legal fees.

Whiting already granted a preliminary injunction putting a limit on Bundy’s finances and preventing him from further selling property, taking on new financial obligations or transferring ownership of entities.

Documents missing requirements

St. Luke’s filed a motion on Sept. 25 asking Whiting to find Bundy in default, according to court documents. Idaho Rule 55 mandates that when one party has “failed to plead or otherwise defend,” the judge must enter such a default order, according to the Idaho State Bar Association.

In the St. Luke’s defamation case, a judge did just that, entering a default order for Bundy and co-defendant Diego Rodriguez.

Bundy has not appeared at any of the civil case’s three hearings, but the judge noted Monday that Bundy had filed two documents in response to the suit.

Filings can sometimes delay a default order, but Bundy filed the paperwork incorrectly. He turned in two documents to the Gem County clerk, both without the required civil cover sheet and filing fee.

The judge said in court that Bundy has 10 days to submit new documents correctly or he will be found in default, according to St. Luke’s attorney Erik Stidham.

Bundy says lawsuit made for ‘political purposes’

The incorrectly filed documents contain a number of allegations against the hospital system that were found to be defamatory in an Ada County court in July. Bundy alleged that this lawsuit was part of an “ongoing conspiracy” to “politically destroy” him.

The majority of one document’s contents were spent refuting the judge’s and jury’s decisions in the defamation case.

Bundy also denied the plaintiffs’ claims that the home sale was illegal.

“Bundy has never ‘damaged any property, committed any violence or harmed any person,’ ” according to the document. “This would include the Plaintiffs’ claim that Bundy fraudulently sold his home to White Barn Enterprises to avoid the Plaintiff from taking it.”

Aaron Welling, a close associate of Bundy’s, purchased the property – and all the furniture and appliances in it – through his corporation White Barn Enterprises for $250,000 in December, according to court records.

Land Advisors Organization, a Boise real estate agency, stated in court filings that the house was worth at least $1 million. Bundy and his family have continued to rent the Emmett home and live there, according to court documents.

Bundy cites fruit harvest again

The second document incorrectly filed asked the judge to move Monday’s hearing for agricultural reasons. He said he owns a large number of apple and pear trees that needed to be harvested.

“With 360 plus fruit trees, it is an extensive and time consuming effort to harvest and process the fruit,” Bundy wrote in the document. “Throughout the entire year we work to bring our crops to harvest. The loss of the apples and the distraction of this hearing would not be fair to my family or I. All of which would put more financial burden upon my family and damage the attempt to have a fair proceeding.”

On Monday, the People’s Right Network, a group founded by Bundy, emailed its members an invitation to help process Bundy’s apples and encouraged them to bring processing ingredients.

“The Bundy’s (sic) have chosen not to sell all their apples this year but instead give them to those who want to put the effort into processing,” the email stated. “If you want applesauce, cider or pie filling then come with Mason jars or other containers, help process and go home with them filled.”

An Ada County judge previously agreed to move a different hearing in Bundy’s contempt of court case to November to allow time for his harvest. That case involves allegations that Bundy violated a court order by harassing and intimidating witnesses and plaintiffs in the St. Luke’s case.