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Local rancher pleads guilty to $2.4M fraud scheme

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A local rancher pleaded guilty last week to a $2.4 million wire fraud scheme related to a cattle purchase claim in a contract with a Texas company.

Dwight Cox, 57, of Ozark, waived his right to a federal grand jury and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on Dec. 12, according to a news release issued Dec. 14 by the office of Tim Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District.

Cox, who owned Dwight Cox Cattle Co., admitted to submitting false invoices to Amarillo, Texas-based Texas Beef Cattle Co. claiming his business purchased cattle that it hadn’t actually acquired.

Dwight Cox Cattle Co. entered a contract with Texas Beef Cattle Co. from 2009 through November 2017, through which Cox agreed to buy cattle and feed and care for the animals on his land or rented property before shipping them to the Amarillo company. Under the contract, Texas Beef would sell the cattle after they hit a certain weight and share the profits equally with Cox.

From April to November 2017, Cox submitted 35 invoices claiming he bought and cared for 3,250 head of cattle. Texas Beef issued payments to Cox totaling $2.6 million during that time, believing the invoices were factual, according to the release.

In February of this year, Texas Beef officials asked Cox why he hadn’t shipped the cattle and he admitted he only had 147 head of cattle. He also admitted to the company that he submitted fake invoices to account for the rest.

Cox fraudulently received $2.4 million through the scheme, according to the release.

Under federal statutes for wire fraud, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison without parole.

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