Fix pleads guilty in North Dakota cattle case
August 28, 2017
Jeffrey Frank Fix, formerly of Bath, S.D., pleaded guilty to theft of property after failing to pay a Fordville, N.D., ranch family for three purebred cows and a purebred bull he "purchased" in 2015. The violation was a class B felony, because the value of the livestock was more than $10,000.
On Aug. 14, Fix signed an agreement with Walsh County State's Attorney Barbara Whelan, admitting his guilt for not paying Jallo Angus Ranch for the cattle and taking them to South Dakota. Although he had not paid for the cattle, Fix subsequently sold the cows to a third party – collecting the proceeds of the sale without paying Jallos. Fix kept the bull, but eventually abandoned that animal with a third party. The bull was recently sold in South Dakota for an amount significantly less than its value at the time it was stolen.
The plea agreement calls for a sentence of five years in prison with two years suspended, but allows for a stay of the incarceration if Fix makes monthly restitution payments of $1,000 to the victims, who are still owed $29,900. Fix is on supervised probation, with restrictions on his behavior and requirements to maintain routine contact with a probation officer. Fix is obligated to make his first restitution payment by Sept. 15. If he misses a payment, he will be arrested and incarcerated for three years at the North Dakota State Penitentiary.
Fix had previously paid $5,000 in cash as a bond to secure his pre-trial release. The bond was used to offset court fees and to apply as partial restitution.
The plea agreement and criminal judgment prohibit Fix from engaging in any sales, purchasing or breeding of livestock for five years. According to Whelan, that was a main factor in the agreement. "It is clear to me that there is a high level of trust and respect within the livestock industry, and Mr. Fix's actions in this case not only violated that trust and respect, but violated the criminal laws of North Dakota," she said. "Justice is served by requiring restitution, and also by prohibiting Fix from being able to engage in the livestock industry for the next several years."
"We are pleased that the victims will finally be getting paid for the animals they sold more than two years ago," said Jeff Schafer, North Dakota Stockmen's Association (NDSA) Brand Board chairman. "The Stockmen's Association works hard to enforce the livestock laws of the state and to protect the rights of property owners, and we are glad to see some justice on its way."
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–North Dakota Stockmen's Association