Ghost-herd scheme results in several lawsuits

Cody Easterday of Mesa, Washington, recently pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding a Tyson Foods, Inc. company out of approximately US$244 million.

Easterday charged the company for the costs of buying and feeding as many as 200,000 cattle that didn’t exist — a ghost-herd.

Greg Henderson, editor at Drovers, says that there are other entities involved in the story, but when Tyson found the underreported money, which came to light in November of 2020, and as the lawsuit unfolded, Easterday was named.

“Basically, it ended up being a $225 million dollar loss, and Easterday admitted that he got in trouble trading futures, so over a four year period of time, and he lost money,” says Henderson.

It’s not just Tyson Foods that has lost money — there were backgrounding yards that were sending cattle to Easterday feedlots, and other people the fraudster did business with that have lost, too.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has also filed charges against Easterday that do not have to do with the Tyson lawsuit, says Henderson.

“The sad thing here is that it’s unravelled Easterday Ranches and Easterday Farms,” says Henderson. “More than just Easterday himself will be affected — both the ranch and the 10,000 acre mixed crop farm, as well as the more than 150 employees will be damaged by all of this.”

Tyson will not release details whether or not someone facilitated the relationship between the company and Easterday, or if anyone has been held accountable.

Hear the full conversation between Henderson and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney:

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