Livestock News

California man arrested after stealing $1.5M cattle rustling

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A California man has been arrested after running a multi-state cattle rustling scheme that cost his victims a total of $1.5 million. Tulare County Sheriff’s Agricultural Crimes Detectives recently traveled to Texas to arrest Justin Tyler Greer, 36, for stealing cattle, investment fraud, and embezzlement.

“This is 21st Century cattle rustling and embezzlement at the highest level,” said Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

For many years, Greer had been a widely-known and respected cattleman in Tulare County. He bought and sold large numbers of cattle on a regular basis as a broker and managed several herds of cattle for various people across Tulare County. Many of the cattle managed by Greer were owned by ranchers in other parts of California, Wyoming, and Colorado.

According to victims, in April and May, Greer failed to meet his financial obligations, causing them to look closer at their business dealings with him. Two of the victims issued audits into the numbers of cattle they owned that had been managed by Greer. Those audits showed hundreds of cattle had been stolen.

Other victims in this case had invested as partners with Greer. They later learned that the cattle they had invested in either weren’t Greer’s to sell in the first place or the cattle never existed at all, Sheriff Boudreaux said.

Seven victims from California, Colorado, and Wyoming lost a total of $1.5 million.

During the investigation, detectives worked closely with the California Bureau of Livestock Identification Brand Unit, as well as criminal investigators with the State of Wyoming Livestock Board. Working together, detectives learned that more than 900 head of cattle had been shipped into Wyoming by Greer.

These cattle had been illegally placed on pasture in Wyoming, Sheriff Boudreaux said.

They were later recovered by investigators with assistance from the State of Wyoming Livestock Board. The Sheriff’s investigation of Greer spawned a parallel criminal investigation by the U.S. Forest Service which is handling the investigation of the cattle Greer sent to Wyoming.

Greer had been doing business through a multitude of financial institutions with various accounts within each institution. Detectives authored and served more than 25 search warrants for these accounts as well as various offices, residences, and a variety of electronic devices. From these searches, detectives obtained and reviewed thousands of financial documents and associated evidence which strongly corroborated the victims’ statements and losses.

Greer was extradited to Tulare County on Dec. 31 and booked at the Adult Pre-Trial Facility. His bail is set at $1.9 million.

His arrest followed an intensive investigation that lasted six and a half months.

The Western way of life is a special one in Tulare County where trust in a man’s word is very much alive, Sheriff Boudreaux said.

“When that trust is broken, it shocks the consciousness of the community and the industry,” he said. “We, at the Sheriff’s Office, take it very seriously when one man steals another man’s cattle and commits fraud.”

 

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