Sentencing Delayed for Rancher Convicted of Defrauding Tyson Foods

Sentencing Delayed for Rancher Convicted of Defrauding Tyson Foods
In March, Cody Easterday pleaded guilty to a $244 million fraud in a ghost cattle scam. He confessed to Tyson officials that he used the stolen money to cover losses from trading commodity futures. (George Plaven / Capital Press)

Remember Cody Easterday, the rancher from southeast Washington who pleaded guilty in March to defrauding Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale of $233 million and an unidentified company of $11 million?

Well, he was scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Tuesday, but that has been delayed, again. The new sentencing date is Jan. 24, in federal court in Richland, Washington.

The reason for the delay?

Easterday is needed to help with the bankruptcy reorganization of his Easterday Ranches Inc. and Easterday Farms GP. He also needs to help with the liquidation of properties that he owns with his 78-year-old mother, Karen Easterday, and his wife, Debby Easterday, according to the filing last month by Cody Easterday’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich of Spokane, Washington.

“The Easterday Farms/Ranches bankruptcy is extraordinarily complex,” Oreskovich wrote. The Easterdays have agreed to cooperate with their creditors in bankruptcy proceedings. But the cooperation is set to expire on Dec. 31.

The filing said a “significant amount” of the Easterday individuals’ real property was combined with the bankruptcy estate’s property and sold to pay creditors.

Easterday also has been working “daily” with the chief restructuring officer in bankruptcy cases to help with the selling of property and equipment.

“Mr. Cody Easterday is the only member of the Easterday family with the knowledge and expertise to assist in the negotiation of the remaining issues on behalf of his family,” the filing said. “It is anticipated that these matters will be resolved by year end.”

Oreskovich wrote that it’s in the best interest of creditors to negotiate a settlement to avoid litigation “that will be extraordinarily costly and will merely deplete the assets available to creditors.”

The monthly cost to administer the bankruptcies is about $2 million, and “extensive” litigation for the next year or more could easily exceed $20 million.

If you recall it was in the late fall of 2020 when Tyson’s subsidiary Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. began taking a closer look at its cattle investments.

On Nov. 30, TFM of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, made a shocking discovery: Easterday, a cattle producer and feedlot operator it worked with for several years, had confessed to submitting invoices for about 200,000 cattle that didn’t exist, making it one of the largest fraud cases in recent memory.