CFTC charges Washington state rancher and feedyard in $233 million scheme

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The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court in eastern Washington state. The action charges Easterday Ranches, Incorporated, a Pasco, Washington-based cattle feedyard, and Cody Easterday, the co-owner and former president of Easterday Ranches, for engaging in cattle fraud in connection with the sale of more than 200,000 non-existent head of cattle to a beef processor.

Easterday is also charged with making false statements to an exchange and violating exchange-set position limits. The CFTC complaint seeks restitution, disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans to Easterday, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and the CFTC.

According to the complaint, Easterday accumulated more than $200 million in losses over a decade from speculative trading in the cattle futures market. To meet margin calls, Easterday came up with a scheme to defraud one of his biggest business partners, a South Dakota-based beef producer.

Easterday Ranches submitted fake invoices and reimbursement requests relating to more than 200,000 head of cattle it never actually purchased or raised on the producer’s behalf. Easterday received more than $233 million to which it wasn’t entitled.