By AMANDA LOVIZA VICKERY
Glasgow Daily Times
The Eastern Livestock fraud case is finally coming to a close for the Kentucky Attorney General's Office of Special Prosecutions. Attorney General Jack Conway announced Wednesday that the remaining restitution collected has been paid to an additional 35 farmers who were swindled by the now-defunct Eastern Livestock, LLC, but not named in the September 2011 indictment.
The additional checks mailed last Wednesday total $56,537, an average of $1,600 paid to the last 35 farmers. A total of 207 farmers have now received restitution from Eastern Livestock, equally nearly $900,000.
The 35 farmers were not named in the indictment because they did not respond to the attorney general's attempts to gather paperwork and information about the victims during the investigation, Conway said, and therefore they were not able to receive the full benefits of the prosecution.
"Everyone else was made whole. These were not," Conway said of the 35 farmers.
However, Conway said, the average pro-rated amount of $1,600 paid to the last group of farmers falls within the average loss bracket of all the farmers. They were able to come as close as possible to making everyone whole, Conway said.
This is the close of the case for the state attorney general's office, Conway said, and he is very pleased with the results.
"We're bringing to a close a sad chapter with Eastern Livestock," Conway said.
He is very proud of his office for their hard work in the handling of this case, Conway said.
In cases like this, Conway said it is always most important to remember the victims during the prosecution process.
"Part of the job as the attorney general when you're in your role as prosecutor is never forget the victim," Conway said. "In this case, the victim was the farmers, and we worked hard … to make them whole."
Any citizen who is the victim of loss or fraud in the future should document the loss, Conway said, and contact the attorney general's office and they will see if they can help.
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office began investigating Eastern Livestock in the fall of 2010, after hundreds of farmers in Kentucky received cold checks from Eastern in exchange for their cattle. Eastern Livestock CEO Thomas P. "Tommy" Gibson, chief financial officer Steve McDonald and other executives Grant Gibson and Darren Brangers were prosecuted for theft and organized crime by Conway's office in Metcalfe Circuit Court. Each pleaded guilty in March 2012, and Grant Gibson and Brangers agreed to pay restitution to the farmers. Tommy Gibson and McDonald were further prosecuted for check kiting and mail fraud in U.S. District Court, and are serving a five and six year federal prison sentence, respectively.