MOREHOUSE PARISH, LA — Five people are charged in connection with the theft of cattle in Morehouse Parish.
"Authorities received a tip from a concerned citizen who saw a trailer with a flat tire and loaded with cattle in the middle of the night. Thanks to the awareness and quick thinking on the part of this citizen, the cattle have been recovered," said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.
The break in the case came shortly before midnight on Saturday, June 8, when a citizen reported to the Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s office that three trailer loads of cattle were stopped on Old Bonita Road. One of the trailers had a flat tire. The trailers contained 37 head of cattle belonging to Jeff Simmons Farms of Bastrop.
The individuals arrested are: Robert McKinney, 30, of Albany, Brandy Fralick, 33, of Albany, Rowdy Ray, 24, of Independence, Carey Hutchinson, 33, of Albany, and Kayla Stevenson, 24, of Amite. A 15-year-old juvenile was also taken into custody and later released to his family.
An investigation by the Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office and LDAF Brand Inspectors revealed that Robert McKinney and Rowdy Ray were allegedly involved in the theft of 14 head of cattle from Dreher Farms of Bastrop which was reported on May 28, 2013. Officials said the Dreher Ranch ear tags that were removed from these cattle were found in McKinney's truck. Twelve head of these cattle were sold through the Amite sale barn in McKinney's name. Two others have been returned to Dreher Farms.
"These cases should serve as a reminder to farmers and ranchers that the branding of livestock with a registered brand is one of the best theft deterrents available to cattle producers. While ear tags can be removed, thieves are less likely to steal cattle that are branded," said Strain.
Upon further investigation, LDAF Brand Inspectors and deputies from the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office recovered a new 2006 aluminum Featherlite living quarters horse trailer that was recently reported stolen from a dealership in Mississippi. This trailer was returned to the dealership on June 11. The Mississippi Ag/Theft Bureau is investigating. Authorities also recovered a Bayliner boat that was reported stolen from Union Parish.
McKinney and Ray are charged with two counts of Felony Theft of Livestock. McKinney is also charged with Possession of Stolen Property for the trailer, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile and Criminal Conspiracy.
The other suspects are charged with one count each of Felony Theft of Livestock. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison for each of the theft charges.