Reports of stolen or missing cattle triple
Cattle theft continues to be a problem in Texas, according to press releases from the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). From 2007 to 2010, Scott Williamson, special ranger with the cattle raisers association, said the number of cattle reported stolen or missing to TSCRA more than tripled from 2,400 to 7,700.
Two cattle thieves turned themselves in to authorities in Athens July 22 after a local news station ran their pictures in the station’s crime fighters program. TSCRA Special Rangers Jimmy Dickson, Troy McKinney, and Marvin Wills, along with numerous other law-enforcement agencies worked the case.
Ashley Vanover, 27, of Kaufman County and Jessie Murray, 41, of Henderson County allegedly stole six head of cattle from a rancher in Kaufman County. The suspects took the cattle to the Hubbard Livestock Market in Hubbard, where they sold the cattle. The sale barn staff and market inspector noted that the couple were acting suspicious and reported them to Wills.
Wills contacted Dickson, who then discovered that the suspects were known criminals in the area. Wills immediately put a hold on the cattle and stopped payment of the check.
The cattle were marked with ear tags identifying the owner. McKinney, whose district includes that of the owner, notified the owner that his cattle had been stolen. The owner was unaware that they had been taken when law enforcement contacted him.
All six head of cattle were returned to the owner.
This case follows the July 11 report, which reported that the third suspect in a 2008 cattle theft case pleaded guilty July 8 to two counts of felony livestock theft. Gabriel Aleman, 31, of Victorville, Calif., received three years deferred adjudication, a $1,000 fine, and was ordered to pay $3,900 in restitution to four ranchers in Swisher County.
In February 2008, Aleman and two other men -- brothers Joshua Andrew Richardson, 30, and Steven Paul Richardson, 35, both of Victorville -- stole approximately 40 head of cattle from four ranchers in Swisher County. At the time of the theft, the men were living in Tulia. In June 2011, the Richardson brothers were sentenced to two years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Another man, Michael Scott Kimich of Anderson, was ordered to pay $23,500 in restitution to victims after he was arrested in July 2009 for attempting to sell stolen cattle at the Navosota Livestock Auction. After he was apprehended, Kimich confessed to stealing more cattle from multiple victims across Grimes County.
Twelfth District Court Judge Donald Kraemer sentenced Kimich, 29, on June 2 on four counts of felony livestock theft. He was ordered to serve 30 days in the Grimes County jail, pay a $4,000 fine, and received five years probation.
In another incident, a Leon County jury in Centerville convicted a man for engaging in organized criminal activity.
Sergio Flores, 44, of Leon County was convicted June 23, and sentenced to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Flores, who worked as a ranch manager at the Rainbolt Ranch in Leon County, stole $60,000 worth of cattle from his employer spanning a 15-month period. He was originally arrested in October 2010 for stealing three head of cattle from the same employer. That case was still pending June 24.
Also, a Paducah man and woman pleaded guilty to second-degree felony livestock theft by engaging in organized criminal activity May 17. Travis Heath “Tee” Bateman, 19, received 10 years deferred adjudication probation and a $5,000 fine. Mackenzi Matus Irons, 19, received five years deferred probation. In June 2010, Bateman confessed to stealing 11 head of cattle from a rancher south of Paducah. He was aided by Irons and another man by the name of Taler Allen Garrett, 22, of Vernon. Garrett is still awaiting trial.
Williamson arrested Bateman in June 2010. He said he was notified of the plea bargain May 25.
Williamson was disappointed in the plea and said that in most cattle theft cases, TSCRA works toward prosecution at its fullest. A second-degree felony is punishable up to 20 years in prison.
Still awaiting his trial after being indicted by a Houston County grand jury on May 23 is Jerome Heath Novak. Novak, 32, allegedly stole 26 calves on March 14 from the East Texas Livestock Auction in Crockett. Novak was arrested and charged in Brazoria County on May 11 for allegedly stealing 28 head of cattle from the Nacogdoches Livestock Exchange and a trailer out of Walker County. His bond was set at $130,000.
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has 29 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Compiled from Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association press releases.