E. Washington rancher sentenced for ‘ghost cattle’ fraud

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — An eastern Washington rancher has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge for a massive “ghost cattle” scam that defrauded Tyson Foods and another company out of more than $244 million. Cody Easterday of Mesa, Washington, was sentenced Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Yakima, Washington. Prosecutors contended Easterday fraudulently charged the companies for approximately 265,000 head of cattle that did not exist and destroyed his family’s ranching empire in the process. Easterday pleaded guilty to wire fraud on March 31, 2021. The judge also ordered him to pay $244 million in restitution and serve three years of probation after he’s released from prison.