A lot has changed in Texas over the years, but doing wrong by another person’s cattle is still serious business.
In the latest example, an Erath County man has been sentenced to eight years in prison after he was convicted of mortgaging cattle that belonged to his employer.
The official charge against Richard Theron Talley, 47, is misapplication of fiduciary property, according to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
Talley, from the community of Santo, about 58 miles west of Fort Worth, was sentenced Tuesday by an Erath County judge.
The charge dated to December, according to Wayne Goodman, a special ranger with the cattle raisers association. The cattle had been repossessed and sold by a bank.
Also, Talley is on probation in Parker, Hunt and Hill counties on previous charges related to checks written for hay purchases, Goodman said.
The charge involving the mortgage began when Talley couldn’t make a payment on a previous loan for a hay purchase, Goodman said.
“He takes the banker out and shows him some cattle he claims were his, and the bank put them up as collateral on a $14,000 hay note,” Goodman said.
The mortgage from Members Trust in Stephenville involved roughly 27 head of cattle, including several calves. Those animals were repossessed and sold by the bank and could not be recovered. However, Goodman said he recovered a bull involved in the mortgage and returned him to the owner.
“I found the bull behind the place in Santo,” he said.
The cattle raisers association, a 137-year-old organization that represents 16,000 beef cattle operations, employs 30 special rangers who investigate crimes.
They are commissioned by the Texas Department of Public Safety, association spokeswoman Carmen Fenton said.
“We don’t do as much with [investigations of] fudiciary property, but we investigate various ag crimes,” she said. “We may have people who take 10 head and go to sell them.”
In one recent case, she said, “we had a guy who bought $300,000 worth of cattle with hot checks.”