Cooke Co. rancher accuses hired hand of 10 years of stealing cattle

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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COOKE COUNTY, Texas (KXII) - A Gainesville rancher is out more than $6,000 after trusting one of his hired hands to sell his cattle.

James Paul Woodard worked for Jess Carson for 10 years and now he is accused of stealing some of his cattle and putting it under his girlfriend’s name to keep the money for himself.

Overbrook Stockyards noticed that he had been stealing cattle from Cason and using his girlfriend’s name to complete the sale, so no one would suspect.

“Contacted Mr. Cason and we let him know what was going on and he was kinda unaware at that time and he said he had no problems up until then that he knew of so we kind of caught that situation there for him,” Owner and Operator of Overbrook Stockyards Ken Russ said.

Russ and Cason contacted the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to ask them to investigate.

“We don’t tolerate cattle rustlers or anything that will jeopardize or harm the cattle producers we want them to know that they can come here and it’s a safe environment,” Russ said.

They found out Woodard would bring in 20 to 30 cattle each time to the market and steal cattle on his second and fourth load-ins.

Investigators believe Woodard stole 14 cattle and more than $6,000 from Cason this way at Overbrook Stockyards in Oklahoma and the Decatur Livestock Auction in Texas.

“Well we already knew he sold some cattle over in Overbrook and in Texas we have marketing specialist at all our sales and it said his name and his girlfriends name and saw that he sold cattle in Decatur as well,” McKinney said.

Special Ranger Troy McKinney was assigned to the case.

“He felt real cheated, he has been his employee for the last 10 plus years he paid him a salary he done everything that he could and he felt like he got cheated,” McKinney said.

Woodard’s girlfriend was unaware any of it was happening.

The charge is elevated to a second degree felony because Cason is considered a senior citizen.

“Anytime we can the rancher or farmer recoup some of their losses, it’s a win win for everybody,” McKinney said.

Woodard was arrested Wednesday morning but got out on $35,000. bond.

Special Agent Mckinney said branding your cattle and checking your cattle every month or two and even checking your employee records and history every so often can help in preventing this from happening again and to other ranchers.

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