Mary Rose Corkery, DCNF
A Washington man agreed to pay back more than $244 million that he was paid to raise nonexistent cows for two companies, a Wednesday Justice Department press release said.
Cody Allen Easterday, 49, pleaded guilty to misleading the companies, including Tyson Foods Inc., in agreements to purchase and feed thousands of cows, the press release said.
Under an agreement, the companies would pay Easterday’s organization the funds to purchase and raise the cattle, the agreements said, according to the press release. Easterday’s Ranches Inc. would return the advanced costs with attached interest and additional payments, but could keep the difference between the cow sales and repayment to the companies, the press release said.
Easterday provided fake invoices to the companies for reimbursement from 2016 through November 2020, the press release said. The companies gave Easterday Ranches Inc. more than $244 million during the scam.
The defendant used the money to pay off debts for his ranch and for personal expenses, the press release said.
Along with agreeing to pay back the money as restitution, Easterday was charged for a count of wire fraud, and is scheduled for sentencing in August. Easterday faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.
A Miami couple pleaded guilty in early March for making false claims that they had employees on farms, which weren’t real and received over $1 million in coronavirus relief from the fraud, a March 8 Justice Department press release said. A Florida man pleaded guilty Feb. 10 over using a portion of fraudulently accessed Paycheck Payment Protection (PPP) money towards buying a Lamborghini, a Feb. 10 Justice Department press release said.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.