1-20-04 - It's been more than a year since the Bonham Livestock Auction was open for business, but hundreds of cattleman are still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s money they say they were cheated out of. In October of 2002, two of the four owners of the auction, Dorothy and Ronnie Gibbs, were indicted by a Fannin County grand jury on 17 counts of theft by check. The investigation began months earlier after cattleman were left holding checks they couldn't cash.
The barn was only bonded up to $85,000 which means folks who sold at the auction were only reimbursed a fraction of what they're owed. But that's just part of the problem for ranchers; for a year, they've had to drive as far as Paris, Durant, and Gainesville just to sell their cattle. But now the barn is back on the market and ranchers are hoping for a quick sale.
Prosecutors say the reality is that cattleman will likely never be fully reimbursed. The total amount of hot checks came to almost half a million dollars. I
f convicted on the state charges, the owners could face 10 to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count.