Rancher gets more than a decade in prison for falsely selling $244 million worth of 'ghost cattle'

Washington state cowboy ran "Ghost Cattle" scheme.

Updated: October 5, 2022 - 2:38pm

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A Washington state rancher received more than a decade in prison this week for fraudulently selling nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of "ghost cattle" to major food companies. 

Cody Allen Easterday "used his company ... to enter into a series of agreements with Tyson" and another unnamed corporation in order to "purchase and feed cattle" on behalf of those two companies, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday

Easterday, the Justice Department said, defrauded both companies "out of more than $244 million by charging [them] for the purported costs of purchasing and feeding hundreds of thousands of cattle that did not exist."

The companies "paid Easterday Ranches over $244 million for the purported costs of purchasing and feeding over 265,000 ghost cattle," which Easterday used to make lucrative investments, the DOJ said. 

Easterday will serve 11 years in prison for his conviction.