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Rancher Gets 11 Years in 'Ghost Cattle' Scheme

He was paid nearly $250 million for raising livestock that never existed.

A Washington state cattle rancher has been sentenced to more than a decade in prison for defrauding a major meat producer.

Cody Allen Easterday, 51, originally pleaded guilty last spring to wire fraud charges in connection with the scheme.

Easterday and his company had signed an agreement with Tyson Foods and another, unnamed company to raise cattle on their behalf.

He was reimbursed for the costs of more than 265,000 cattle over five years, but federal prosecutors said those cattle never existed.

Instead, he used the proceeds to cover, in part, some $200 million in losses from commodities trading.

Easterday also submitted falsified paperwork to CME Group, which operates the world’s largest financial derivatives exchange.

He previously agreed to pay back the money as part of the plea deal — to the tune of more than $244 million in restitution.

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