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Press Release

Fifth Manager Sentenced in Scheme to Defraud Midwest Livestock Producers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Cheated Pork Producers in Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota

A Lyon County man who defrauded pork producers while working as the regional manager of an Iowa livestock dealer, “Lynch Livestock,” was sentenced on June 24, 2024, to six months in federal prison.  Robert Harry Bickerstaff, age 52, from Rock Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a December 1, 2023, guilty plea to one count of wire fraud.

At plea and sentencing hearings, and in his plea agreement, Bickerstaff admitted that he had worked as a regional manager for Lynch Livestock between 2018 and 2021  As a regional manager, Bickerstaff oversaw livestock buying stations in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.  From time to time, Bickerstaff also personally counted, classified, and weighed swine at these stations.

Bickerstaff admitted he participated in a scheme to defraud livestock producers personally and by directing others to (1) falsely and fraudulently lower the weights and reduce the numbers and classifications of swine that producers and sellers had delivered to the dealer at its buying stations; (2) manipulate the weights of swine either manually or using a crowbar, paddle, or other similar object, and thus defeat the electronic scales on which livestock producers’ swine was weighed at his buying stations; and (3) create fraudulent “sort sheets” and scale tickets containing false numbers, classifications, and weights of producers’ swine for transmission to Lynch Livestock’s headquarters in Waucoma, Iowa.  Finally, concerned about a potential investigation into his conduct in early 2021, Bickerstaff instructed others to destroy anything with his name on it.

Bickerstaff held a degree in Agribusiness and was experienced in the pork industry.  Bickerstaff was a pork producer himself.  In February 2022, Bickerstaff won a “Hog Wild” award from a statewide pork producers’ association for his role in promoting pork in Lyon County.

Bickerstaff was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on a date yet to be set.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy L. Vavricek and was investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Bickerstaff is the fifth manager of Lynch Livestock sentenced in this livestock fraud scheme. 

Billie Joe Wickham, of Waucoma, Iowa, pled guilty on July 15, 2022, to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  On January 13, 2023, Wickham was sentenced to six months of imprisonment and fined $3,000.  Wickham must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Charlie Lynch, of Fort Atkinson, Iowa, pled guilty on July 25, 2022, to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  On January 13, 2023, Lynch was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $3,000.

Leland “Pete” Blue, of Fredericksburg, Iowa, pled guilty on July 28, 2022, to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  On January 13, 2023, Blue was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $1,000.

Tyler Thoms, of Fayette, Iowa, pled guilty on August 9, 2022, to one count of Causing a Livestock Dealer to Keep Inaccurate Accounts and Records.  On January 13, 2023, Thoms was sentenced to one year of probation.

Bickerstaff’s employer, Lynch Family Companies, Inc., of Waucoma, Iowa, also known as “Lynch Livestock,” pled guilty on July 29, 2022, to one count of Failing to Comply with an Order of the Secretary of Agriculture.  On February 10, 2023, Lynch Livestock was sentenced to five years of probation, fined $196,000, and ordered to pay over $3 million in restitution to livestock producers and farmers.

Court file information at

The case file number is 23-CR-2026.  The prior case file numbers are 21-CR-2074 (Wickham and Lynch), 21-CR-2042 (Blue), 22-CR-2043 (Lynch Family Companies, Inc.), and 22-CR-2044 (Thoms).

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Updated July 2, 2024

Financial Fraud