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Man with history of petty larceny sentenced for cattle theft

Although you might think of cattle rustling as a hanging offense from the Old West, the crime apparently still occurs in modern times. A Michigan man has been sentenced to two to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to allegations that he stole dozens of cows from a Kent County farm. He will also be required to pay restitution in the amount of $78,000. The man, age 54, reportedly had a history of petty larceny and other similar crimes. He pleaded guilty to the theft crimes in mid-January after his November arrest.

Authorities report that the man reportedly stole the animals over a period of several months, ultimately spiriting away at least 39 head of cattle. The owner of the ranch said he was duped by the defendant, who would tell him that the missing animals were simply wandering the 150-acre property. The cattle were being raised in a specific environment that included grass-fed and pasture-raised designations. Officials say the man sold the cattle for about $500 per head; in reality, they were worth about $2,000 each.

The owner of the herd said he lost about one-third of his animals to the theft. An admitted city dweller, that man said that he started the business because he wanted to provide healthy alternatives to traditional grocery-store beef. He was shocked to discover that although his cattle had been implanted with a radio chip in their ears, the auction house that sold the animals was not legally obligated to check for ownership.

The defendant in this case said he thought he needed mental health counseling, but he was still sentenced to several years behind bars. This man entered a guilty plea for a variety of reasons. Defendants who are facing similar criminal charges for crimes against property should carefully consider their plea decisions. A Michigan attorney may be able to help these defendants learn more about their legal rights.

Source: MLive.com, "Cannon Township cattle rustler gets prison time for stealing, selling high-end beef on the hoof" Barton Deiters, Feb. 20, 2014

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