The sentencing of the former head of an eastern Washington agricultural conglomerate has been delayed by nearly four months as he continues to go bankrupt by offloading property.
Cody A. Easterday, 50, was due to face a federal judge on Tuesday over his wire fraud case.
But after a request from Easterday’s criminal defense attorney to postpone the hearing until at least mid-January, Chief Justice Stanley A. Bastian agreed to suspend the breeder’s shipment to bankruptcy in prison.
Carl J. Oreskovich, in his petition filed in the United States District Court, said that “the lawsuit is based on the need for Mr. Easterday’s continued involvement in the bankruptcy and liquidation of the Easterday properties. Farm / Ranches “.
He added that the bankruptcy case is complex and requires the constant assistance and cooperation of Easterday so that the liquidated assets can be handed over and delivered before the end of the year.
“Mr. Easterday, together with his mother and wife, entered into a cooperation agreement with the debtors and bankruptcy creditors, whereby their respective individual real estate assets were combined with the assets of the bankruptcy estate and sold in the purpose of providing a product to creditors, “Oreskovich wrote in his motion.
“It is in the best interests of all creditors to negotiate a settlement of the distribution of the proceeds of the Cooperation Agreement and to avoid litigation which will be extremely costly and will only deplete the assets available to creditors.”
The attorney said “a significant amount” of the assets of the bankruptcy estate and individual Easter assets have been sold.
Federal prosecutors did not object to the motion, which was the second request for a delay.
Easterday is now set to be sentenced on January 24 in the Richland Federal Building.
$ 244 million in restitution
He faces up to 20 years in prison and must reimburse $ 244 million in compensation.
The Mesa man has been in custody since pleading guilty to the single felony count on March 31. He handed over his passport to the probation officers.
Easterday was charged with the white collar felony after federal officials examined the business relationship between his family’s cattle feed operation in Franklin County and Tyson Foods.
He was president and CEO of Easterday Ranches when he hatched a scheme to defraud Tyson and another company over $ 244 million to make up for his losses in the commodities markets.
Tyson Foods and its subsidiary, Tyson Fresh Meats, have been named as victims of the fraud, along with the CME group.
However, federal prosecutors continue to keep the name of the other victim a secret, identifying him only as “Company 1” – a limited liability company headquartered in Tukwila.
Tyson operates a meat processing plant in Wallula and has long-standing deals with Easterday Ranches, advancing the money for the costs of feeding and raising cattle at market weight before it is sent to the slaughterhouse.
Tyson was billed twice a month for the refund.
“Ghost” cattle scam
Easterday accused Tyson and the other company of buying and feeding 200,000 cattle that never existed. It has been called a “ghost cattle scam” by federal prosecutors.
The fraud took place over at least four years, although court documents show Easterday’s losses in the commodities market started 10 years ago. Tyson sued the cattle supplier seeking his money back, along with 54,000 head of cattle that were in an Easter feedlot north of Pasco.
These are just two in a number of court cases involving family businesses since Patriarch Gale Easterday died in a December head-on crash on Interstate 182 after leaving Pasco’s main office.
Easterday Ranches and Easterday Farms, the farming part of the operation, separately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February.
Over the summer, Farmland Reserve Inc. – the parent company of Kennewick-based AgriNorthwest – won the $ 209 million auction for 18,000 acres of farmland in the southeast corner of Benton County. . The sale included prime water rights to the Columbia River for 12,000 irrigated acres.
Blue Tag Farms, a subsidiary of Agri Beef, was the top bidder with $ 14 million for more than 600 pieces of equipment on Easterday farms and ranches, Capital Press reported in September.
And Agri Beef paid $ 16 million for the Easterday feedlot in Pasco, according to another Capital Press article.
A bankruptcy judge reportedly blocked an attempt by Tyson Fresh Meats to challenge the sale in September because it was too low.
Kristin M. Kraemer covers the justice system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She was a journalist for over 20 years in Washington and California.