Tyson Receives $63.4M from Cody Easterday Cases

Tyson Receives $63.4M from Cody Easterday Cases
In March 2021, 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)

A disgraced Washington State cattle rancher has been able to put a dent in the amount he owes Tyson Foods Inc.

As of Jan. 24, the Springdale protein producer has received $63.39 million in payments from Cody Easterday’s companies’ bankruptcy cases, according to a filing in federal court.

Easterday now owes Tyson Foods only $177.1 million.

If you recall, the rancher pleaded guilty in March 2021 to defrauding Tyson Foods of $233 million and Segale Properties LLC of Tukwila, Washington, of $11 million.

The crime came to light at the end of 2020, when Tyson Fresh Meats 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.

In October, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for wire fraud and ordered to pay restitution to the companies. Payments of $3.5 million have been made to Segale too, the filing last month said.

Easterday is serving his sentence at a medium-security U.S. penitentiary in Lompoc, California.

Easterday’s two companies, Easterday Ranches Inc. and Easterday Farms GP, are in bankruptcy court. 

Meanwhile, Easterday is not done with Tyson. 

Easterday has recently filed two federal lawsuits against Tyson Fresh Meats in an attempt to reduce the amount he owes the company. 

In one of the lawsuits in federal court in Washington, Easterday accused TFM of breach of contract stemming from a Cody’s Beef venture they had between 2013 and 2020.

Easterday said that he supervised the raising of the cattle by Easterday Ranches, which were then sold to Tyson for resale to NH Foods in Japan, according to the lawsuit. 

Easterday said in the complaint that he and Tyson agreed to share the profits, but that didn’t happen. Easterday also allowed his name and photo to be used on the beef label.

Tyson has filed a motion to have that case dismissed.

In another lawsuit filed last month, Easterday accused Tyson Fresh Meats of wrongdoing in an antitrust and unfair competition case. Tyson Fresh Meats hadn’t filed a response in that case as of Thursday afternoon. Tyson didn’t immediately respond to an email for comment. 

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