Easterday Ranches to pay $263 million for engaging in phantom cattle fraud scheme

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Easterday Ranches phantom cattle fraud scheme
Image by Cally Lawson from Pixabay

A federal court ordered Easterday Ranches to pay a total of $263 million restitution and civil monetary penalty for committing a phantom cattle fraud scheme.

On March 31, 2021, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a lawsuit against Easterday Raches and Cody Easterday, co-owner and former president of the Washington-based cattle feed yard.

The CFTC regulator alleged that the defendants for defrauding Tyson Fresh Meats by selling more than 200,000 non-existent heads of cattle. The company carried its phantom cattle fraud scheme by submitting false invoices and reimbursement requests to the beef processor from October 2016 to November 2020.

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During the relevant period, Easterday Ranches received more than $233 million for the heads of cattle that were never purchased or raised on behalf of the South Dakota-based beef processor.

The CFTC found that Mr. Easterday accumulated more than $200 million in losses over a 10-year period from speculative trading in the cattle futures markets. The problem prompted him to engage in a phantom cattle fraud scheme.

Additionally, the regulator alleged that Easterday Ranches reported false information about its cattle inventory, purchases, and sales to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2017 and 2018 to avoid an investigation and disciplinary action

On Friday, Chief Judge Stanley A. Bastian of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued the order against the defendants. The chief judge specifically ordered to pay $233,008,042 in restitution and a $30 million civil monetary penalty.  He also ordered the defendants to cease and desist from further violating the anti-fraud provision of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations.