July 30, 2010

by Cassandra Anderson


In this 3-part video interview with Tony DeMeo, Sheriff of Nye County, Nevada, he explains that he is a Constitutional Sheriff and that authority for public office holders is derived from the people. He tells the story about how he used the Constitution as his foundation in the saga of Nye County rancher Wayne Hage’s disputes over encroachments by the federal government. While Wayne Hage’s case centered around property rights in federally managed lands, Sheriff Tony DeMeo’s example is relevant for everyone to understand the power of local government, the importance of following the Constitution and upholding the Tenth Amendment (states’ rights and sovereignty).

Wayne Hage, the author of “Storm Over Rangelands, Private Rights in Federal Lands” owned the Pine Creek cattle ranch in Nye County. Wayne Hage wrote his book after suffering illegal cattle seizures by armed federal agents and chronicled the history of how the robber baron bankers and railroad magnates monopolized the western states over 100 years ago. Hage wrote that the northern core financiers were aware that there are two ways to monopolize any resource, “One, get all of it for yourself that you can; two, keep anybody else from getting what you can’t.” Public Lands and National Forests were created along with restrictive regulations, using environmental protection as the excuse. 


The first video covers Wayne Hage’s discovery that the US Department of Forestry, an agency of the USDA, filed a claim for his water rights and later seized his cattle; the USDA Forestry Service used armed agents to accomplish the seizure. Hage believed that his cattle were confiscated so that he would be unable to show that he was using his water rights for ‘beneficial use’ in order to shut down his ranch. Water is scarce in Nevada and unless the landowner can prove he is using the water rights for ‘beneficial use’, the rights are removed.


In the late 1990’s, before Sheriff DeMeo took office, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Department of Interior, seized more of Hage’s cattle off of his ranch, using armed federal agents. The sheriff at that time left town on a fishing trip.

Subsequently, when Sheriff DeMeo took office in 2003, he told his deputies that illegal cattle seizures were prohibited and that any federal agents attempting to confiscate cattle would be arrested. Shortly thereafter, the BLM arrived at Hage’s ranch to perform a seizure. The Sheriff’s Deputy told the federal agents that there would be no seizure or taking of cattle, per DeMeo’s decision based on the Constitution. The Deputy was told that the BLM federal agents intended to arrest DeMeo and use armed force to take Hage’s cattle. Sheriff DeMeo advised the federal agent that their SWAT team would be faced with Sheriff DeMeo’s SWAT team if they proceeded.

Sheriff DeMeo clearly stated that he refused any unlawful seizures on Wayne Hage’s estate. He further advised federal agents that if they could produce a lawful court order for seizing cattle, he would not take the cattle off of the land, but impound them there on Hage’s ranch. This is important because if seized cattle were to remain impounded on Hage’s ranch, then Wayne Hage could still show ‘beneficial use’ of his water rights.


In 2004, the BLM wanted authority for law enforcement over the roads in the federally managed Public Lands. Sheriff DeMeo said that because they were asking for the authority, that meant that they didn’t have that law enforcement power. Nye County passed a Resolution forbidding the BLM from encroachment, protecting state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. Nevada also passed a State Law in 2005 (NRS 565.125) that requires a court order from the court of competent jurisdiction and submission of the order to the Sheriff’s Office before any agency seizes animals. All cattle ranches in Nye County are independent family owned operations.Sheriff DeMeo also explains that his deputies are empowered to refuse unlawful orders, if the orders violate the US Constitution, the Nevada State Constitution, local laws or policy.


Sheriff DeMeo said that while Nevada is more than 90% federally managed, these Public Lands are actually owned by The People and the federal government is limited in their authority under the Tenth Amendment and states’ rights.

Land ownership in Nevada is a complicated issue and the land is divided into “split estates”, or land that has both private and government interests. This means that while the private property owner holds title over his land that is Public Land (National Forests), he may or may not also own the water, mineral, grazing, oil, timber or wildlife rights on that property. Wayne Hage’s book “Storm Over Rangelands” details the history of the laws that bind the Western States to federal land management.

Public Lands are lands owned by the people of the United States under our Constitution Section 8 Clause 17: ‘To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;’

Sheriff DeMeo said that since the federal government has authority over 10 square miles, then the Public Lands are owned by the people for the benefit of all.

The federal government’s jurisdiction and authority in Public Lands are important for all Americans to become aware of because the federal government is expanding its control and privately owned property across America that is targeted by the Wildlands Project.


Sheriff DeMeo reported that after several disputes with the USDA’s Department of Forestry and the Department of Interior’s BLM, an understanding of jurisdiction has been accomplished to the satisfaction of his office. In fact, the federal government has since established annual meetings, the Western Sheriffs Summit, between these agencies and western area sheriffs.

Sheriff DeMeo studied the Constitution in New Jersey when he was a police officer, as it was a requirement for promotion. He said that because nearly every encounter with the public involves some aspect of respecting the Constitution, he has added additional study of the Constitution to the Nye County Sheriffs training academy curriculum that was in place before he took office.

Additionally, he has given his deputies decision making authority based on the Constitution, the Nevada State Constitution, local laws and policy. They are empowered with the right to refuse unlawful orders. Sheriff DeMeo issues Empowerment Cards to his deputies which set policy for deputies when they are in contact with the public and allows deputies to make field decisions as long as they do not violate the respective Constitutions, State Law and Policies.

Download Nye County Sheriff Empowerment Card (PDF)

Sheriff DeMeo created the Empowerment Cards for his deputies shortly after he entered office in 2003. He attended a seminar given by Alan Brunacini of the Phoenix Fire Department who was the original author; DeMeo modified the cards to apply to law enforcement for his deputies to reference in the field. Sheriff DeMeo is interested in encouraging his deputies to make decisions and to be leaders.

A Sheriff’s Forum is held each month in Nye County and Sheriff DeMeo addresses all questions and concerns from the public.

Please visit www.MorphCity.com for more articles.

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15 Responses to “Constitutional Sheriff Tony DeMeo”

  1. I and friends from Washington State salute you, Sheriff DeMeo ,for
    standing up to the ever threatening, over-empowered fedral govt.

    May God help us all!!


  2. IQU says:

    A reply to Still Privatestill,

    Lets look at big corporations and the mighty Mississippi and what they have poured into this fresh water river. Lets look at the Colorado river and the pollution from big business. Let me mentioned all other major rivers that are polluted. You have the gull to put responsible ranchers and farmers into that ilk.
    You should focus your attention upon these critter corporations not individuals whom are responsible of taking great care of the land, water and forests.

    And, for eating beef that causes cancer, you need to find and publish such information because you are spreading false info.
    If the government was not forcing ranchers into putting drugs into cattle because of big corporations wanting to get rid of their competition. All natural is was and shall always be the best.

    As for government managing anything, please show all of us where they have been successful in managing anything, even war.

    Last but not least, please learn the situation before putting thy foot in thy mouth.

  3. Taxpayer says:

    To Mr. or Mrs. StillPrivate.

    Here is my comment to you. You must be a vegetarian (fine) is your choice.

    We need the milk to make our bones strong as well as our teeth and the meat for our protein.

    I do admire Mr. DeMeo for standing up and giving his life to defand people’s rights.

    We need to clone him and bring him here to Maricopa county in Az.

    We need a lot more sheriffs like Sheriff Tony DeMeo, sheriffs who actually know and care about the Constitution and the people, sheriffs who are willing to actually stand up for the people and their office against the will of the Feds. Thanks, Sheriff DeMeo!

    God Bless him and his followers, A M E M !

  4. Mike Hays says:

    “The Sheriff is America’s Last Hope.”
    -Richard Mack

    Spread The Word!

  5. Control the water, and you control the people.

  6. nobody says:

    Why was the government interested in the water rights? They wanted to take Wayne’s cattle to negate his “beneficial” water rights, but why did they want it to begin with?

  7. D. Wilber says:

    We need many more like Sheriff Demeo. In 1944, the head of the New York Fed, Beardsley Ruml gave a speech saying “taxation for revenue is obsolete.” GOVERNMENT IS INDEPENDENT OF TAXATION amd has no need for money as long as all of us will risk our lives and even die for strips of paper that have not even promised payment since 1963. Having no need for money, our misleaders can do anything with us, for us, to us or to others as long as the doers

  8. Pete Ross says:

    Well done Sheriff DeMeo. This is just the beginning of a peaceful “revolution” nationwide. Time to let our public servants know who is the boss.

  9. Holly says:

    Yes if only we had more men with the courage and integrity of Sheriff DeMeo b/c this case is only one example of what is going on and will continue to occur.

  10. LibertyTreeBud says:

    Sheriff DeMeo you are one heck of a guy. Wish there were a million men just like you, armed and dedicated to the Constitution and property rights.

  11. Archeral says:

    I applaud Sheriff DeMeo. It’s about time someone in law enforcement had a stiff enough spine to stand up to a left wing government hell bent on destroying the rights of the individual. America wake up and look to his example. Our constitution is the greatest document ever written and needs to be defended by all who still care about this country and personal freedom.

  12. BigIron says:

    We need a lot more sheriffs like Sheriff Tony DeMeo, sheriffs who actually know and care about the Constitution and the people, sheriffs who are willing to actually stand up for the people and their office against the will of the Feds. Thanks, Sheriff DeMeo!

  13. Jim Hurley says:

    Outstanding Sheriff DeMeo, Outstanding.
    Thank You.
    To many Federal Agency’s have to much power.

  14. This cattle rancher was independent, and his cattle roamed thousands of acres. I think you are confusing the “cattle industry” with a local independent on a family-owned ranch. There was no CAFO involved, which is where the pollution comes from. “Environmental concerns” do not give the Feds the right to trample individual rights at will. It is certainly not okay to steal someone’s property, trespass on his land, fine him for no good reason, and harass him continually, all in the name of supposed environmental concerns. I am sick of the government using the “environment” to ram through a system of total control and manipulation. The government doesn’t care one lick about the environment. Look at the BP disaster. Look at GMOs and the pesticide industry, both supported by the USDA.

    P.S. The Federal government is not the Native American’s friend. History proves it.

  15. Private Stillprivate says:

    Well, it all sounds good in theory, unless you’ve actually seen what cattle DO to the surrounding natural environment… There are some legitimate “environmental issues” to be considered. And if you want to get into “land rights”, I’d say most, if not all of this land belongs to the Native indigenous people, to begin with, not the cattle ranchers! If the federal gov’t hadn’t protected some of it, they would have taken all of it, and ruined all of it, by now. I’m willing to bet this sheriff does some cattle ranching on the side, himself?? The cattle industry, as it exists today, is one that probably needs to be phased out, at this point, since it places too much of a burden on the natural environment which we ALL depend on, for our survival. Also, the product most of them are mass producing, isn’t actually very healthy for the consumer, with all the growth hormones, inorganic feed supplies, etc, that they use, (and let’s don’t forget, it was the cattle industry that brought us “Mad Cow”), and it’s a less necessary industry, now that people are progressing out of the need to eat so much meat, as what is currently in the American diet. (at least those who are smart, and want to live long and healthy lives, are doing so) All this rampant meat eating causes cancer, heart disease, and obesity! And with our environment currently teetering on the brink of becoming unable to sustain life, I think some people are just gonna have to accept that the water and the land are resources which are not necessarily “exclusively owned” by any one person. To some extent, these resources belong to ALL of us. Example – a stream or river that is polluted by the practices of a rancher, who’s land that stream or river happens to flow through, effects more than just that rancher, it effects everyone downstream, as well. Cattle pooing and dying in waterways, is also not very healthy. Sometimes these waterways are sources of drinking water, for other people who live downstream! I don’t know all the details of what this particular conflict was about, but I’ll bet it had something to do with environmental concerns, didn’t it??