Man sentenced in SD ranch theft
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 5:51 AM
A Brule County, South Dakota man was sentenced in circuit court last week to jail time and restitution for a charge of Receiving Stolen Property-Grand Theft. 46-year-old Scott Lawson of rural Kimball, S.D. was given a sentence of four years in the state penitentiary for the crime, which is a Class Four Felony. All four years of the sentence are suspended, as long as Lawson spends five months in jail and pays just over $12,600 in restitution. Lawson was arrested last year after six bulls were taken from a Lyman County ranch. The South Dakota Brand Board and Lyman County Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation into the theft. Lawson entered a no contest plea in March to a charge of Possessing or Receiving Stolen Property. While in court for sentencing last week, Brule County States Attorney David Natvig says the owner said he had known Lawson and couldn't believe he stole the bulls. Lawson also addressed the court and said he was sorry for his actions and that he had taken the bulls without any outside help. Judge Sean O'Brien questioned Lawson about statements he made at the time of his arrest in which he said someone had dropped the bulls off at his place and that he wasn't involved in the theft. Lawson admitted to the judge that he had lied to the investigators-but didn't know why. Before Lawson was sentenced, Natvig asked the court to consider Lawson's dishonesty and the impact of the crime on the victims.
The federal government has joined in a $150 million lawsuit against the Chino meat plant involved in the largest beef recall in U.S. history.
The Department of Justice late Friday announced it would pursue the lawsuit against the now defunct Westland/Hallmark Meat. Co. Once the second largest supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program, Westland/Hallmark knowingly and falsely claimed that animals at the plant were treated humanely and that no "downers" -- cows to sick or injured to stand -- were slaughtered for food.
The Humane Society of the United States, whose undercover investigation at the Chino plant prompted last year's recall of 143 million pounds of beef, originally filed the lawsuit as a whistleblower under the False Claims Act.