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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

Friday, January 15, 2016

Professional Cattle Thief Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Jason Amidon, 28, of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, was sentenced yesterday in United States District Court in Brattleboro, following his guilty plea to one count of Wire Fraud. The charges stemmed from his scheme to defraud two Vermont and eleven other cattle ranchers of approximately $2.1 million by offering to purchase real cattle with counterfeit checks, and by offering to sell cattle that did not in fact exist and pocketing the proceeds. U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha sentenced Amidon to 38 months in prison, three years of post-release supervision, and $144,450 in restitution.

The case began after Amidon successfully uttered a counterfeit check for $100,000 to a Lyndonville, Vermont farmer, in exchange for the purchase of 55 Belted Galloway female cattle and their calves, a heritage pedigree breed of cattle. Instead of delivering them to their new home at a co-operative farm in Minnesota as he represented, Amidon, with help from his father, delivered the cows to auction in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, where they were to be sold for beef. The balance of the agreed-upon purchase price was never delivered to the Vermont farmer.

Subsequently, law enforcement agents uncovered a series of frauds related to cattle. From in or about the summer of 2013 to January 2015, Amidon managed to defraud a number of cattle ranchers around the country. Specifically, by use of the internet and stock photography of cattle that were not his, Amidon swindled a cattle rancher in Arkansas into paying Amidon a $55,000 down payment for cattle that did not exist, as well as a cattle rancher in New Mexico into paying a $30,026 down payment for cattle that also did not exist. Those frauds resulted in two separate misdemeanor convictions in Pennsylvania.

Also, at the time of his January 2015 arrest, Amidon faced a third set of charges in Pennsylvania after convincing an Iowa farmer to wire him $135,000 as a down payment for cattle that did not exist. Amidon falsely represented himself to be a cattle broker for an owner who was dying of cancer and who needed to sell his entire herd at a discount; these charges ultimately became part of the federal indictment against him.

Additionally, in or about December 2014, Amidon made a series of arrangements with three other Iowa cattle ranchers to purchase legitimate cattle from them with counterfeit checks, for a total of $556,100; these deals ultimately fell through. At the same time, Amidon attempted to convince ranchers from Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri that he desired to purchase their cattle but needed to complete the deal quickly, as Amidon falsely represented that those cattle were required to board a barge leaving for Turkey. Amidon hoped that the urgency and speed of the transaction would deflect attention from the illegitimate funds that would have garnered him $1,201,600 had he been successful in his efforts.

In fashioning its 38 month sentence, the Court stated that it took into its consideration the facts of the case as well as the defendant’s background and personal history.

This case was investigated by the Vermont State Police in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Pennsylvania State Police were also instrumental in the investigation and arrest in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. The United States Attorney expresses his gratitude for their cooperation and impressive investigation.

Amidon was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Quinn. The prosecutor was Assistant U.S. Attorney Abigail Averbach.

Updated January 15, 2016