PASCO, Wash. — A lawsuit against the Tri-Cities-based Easterday Ranches over a “ghost cattle” scheme that defrauded food processing goliath Tyson Inc. was successful, resulting in $244 million in restitution and an 11-year prison sentence for the namesake of the family-owned and operated company.
According to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington, 51-year-old Mesa resident Cody Allen Easterday is responsible for defrauding Tyson Foods Inc. out of $244 million worth of livestock ( approx. 265,000 head of cattle) that never existed.
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This is one of the single-largest fraud schemes in the history of Eastern Washington law and was described by Chief District Judge Stanley A. Bastian as “the biggest theft or fraud I’ve seen in my career – and the biggest I ever hope to see.”
Court documents show that Easterday deceived a group of investor companies to provide the costs required to buy, raise, butcher and sell the cattle to Tyson Foods Inc. During this time, Easterday filed fraudulent paperwork, moved the money around to keep his operation afloat and spent some of it on his own personal interests.
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Vanessa Waldref, the presiding U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington, offered the following comments:
“No one is above the law. Mr. Easterday amassed significant personal wealth, yet, he wanted more, so he defrauded his victims of nearly a quarter billion dollars by charging for cattle that never existed…
Fraud has a debilitating impact on society by draining our communities’ limited resources. Accordingly, we will continue to prosecute fraudsters to the fullest extent so we can keep our communities safe and strong in Washington State and throughout our great Nation.”
This is a breaking development. An update and/or follow-up may be issued if further details are uncovered.
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