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Clever rancher charged with wire fraud

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Lonnie Littles, of Clever, was charged with wire fraud, related to an Oct. 14, 2009, indictment of bank fraud conspiracy involving a false cattle theft claim, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Littles is husband to Christian County Assessor Sandra Bryant-Littles.

Littles, 62, was charged in a five-count indictment returned from a federal jury on Oct. 6 in Springfield, which replaces the original indictment and adds two additional counts of wire fraud.

According to the original indictment, Littles sold 53 head of cattle between January 2008 and March 2009 and falsely reported them stolen to law enforcement. His ranch hand, Jesse Rice, pleaded guilty in federal court in February 2010 to submitting the false police report.

Rice also made on-camera interviews with two local TV stations, repeating the false allegations, according to Springfield Business Journal coverage.

The cattle had been pledged as collateral on a Liberty Bank line of credit. Littles obtained $105,000 in collateral for the reported stolen cattle, according to the news release.

In February, Littles was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud for asking Rice to file the false reports.

The Oct. 6 indictment alleges that Littles committed wire fraud on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9, 2009, by setting up two on-camera interviews by his employee, Rice, to be broadcast by KY3 and KOLR-10. The indictment says the interviews were part of Littles' scheme to defraud Liberty Bank and Shelter Insurance Co. - he increased his insurance  coverage on the cattle from $60,000 to $100,000 before the illicit sales were made.

Evidence in the indictment will be presented to a federal grand jury, who will determine the guilt or innocence of Littles.[[In-content Ad]]

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