UPDATE: Rebranded cattle and missing ear tags lead to felony charges
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We asked Jefferson County Prosecutor Robin Dunn why Jared and Heath Lewis were not arrested on the felony charges. He responded with this statement by email on Tuesday:
“We exercise discretion when the defendant(s) are known residents and not a flight risk. Also, the type of charge comes into play,” Dunn wrote.
RIGBY — Two Jefferson County men are facing felony grand theft charges after stolen cattle were discovered mixed with their herd in fall 2015.
Jared and Heath Lewis with Double L Farms Inc. in Rigby are due in court in Jefferson County for a preliminary hearing Feb. 25.
Court documents show that in August, an unidentified person observed what he believed to be cattle from Ririe-based Foster Land & Cattle Co. mixed in with herd cattle from Double L Farms on land the Lewises were renting in the Palisades area. The two ranches run cattle next to each other in Jefferson County. The investigative report said it is possible the cows could have got mixed together there.
Idaho State Police Brand Inspector Kirk Christensen was called to investigate the herd in September along with a representative of Foster Land & Cattle. Heath Lewis was contacted and asked to come along to assist in looking through his cows. Lewis told investigators he was busy with other things, but gave the two permission to look through his cattle, and if any were found to belong to Foster that they should be returned.
During the investigation, Christensen discovered five cows belonging to Foster Land & Cattle. The investigative report shows two calves and one cow allegedly have a Double L Farms brand that was overlaid on top of Foster brand. The ear tags were removed from all the animals.
The cows were taken to a veterinarian and returned to Foster Land & Cattle.
Jared and Heath Lewis weren’t arrested; however, the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office filed four grand theft felony charges against the men. Both men face a minimum of one year and a maximum of 14 years in prison for each charge with an additional fine totaling $20,000.
We reached out to Christensen for details on the case, but he declined to comment.