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Press Release

Braymer Man Sentenced to 32 Years for Cattle Fraud Scheme That Led to Murders

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri
$215,000 Fraud Scheme Led to the Murders of Two Wisconsin Brothers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Braymer, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for a $215,000 cattle fraud scheme that he attempted to cover up by murdering two Wisconsin brothers.

Garland Joseph Nelson, 28, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Beth Phillips to 32 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Nelson to pay $260,925 in restitution to his victims.

On Oct. 4, 2022, Nelson pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Nelson admitted that he defrauded a Shawano County, Wisconsin company, Diemel’s Livestock, LLC, of $215,000 in a cattle contract.

Nelson is also serving two life sentences in a separate state case related to the murders of Nicholas and Justin Diemel, two brothers who were principals in Diemel’s Livestock. Nelson’s federal prison sentence must be served consecutively to his state sentence.

Nelson – an employee of J4s Farm Enterprises, Inc., a business started by his mother – agreed to care for cattle belonging to Diemel’s Livestock. Diemel’s Livestock invested and traded in cattle and other livestock. Nelson agreed to feed and pasture the cattle, then sell the cattle and send Diemel’s Livestock the proceeds (minus the costs of raising the cattle).

The Diemels sent several loads of cattle to Nelson from November 2018 through April 2019. Nelson sold some loads of cattle and paid the Diemels. However, Nelson admitted he killed many of the Diemels’s cattle and then fraudulently billed the Diemels for feed and yardage for the dead cattle.

Nelson admitted that he did not properly care for cattle due to incompetence, neglect, or maltreatment. Hundreds of calves entrusted to Nelson died due to underfeeding, neglect, and/or maltreatment. Nelson fed cattle inadequately and poorly. For example, he dropped feed bales in a pasture for calves but did not remove the plastic covering so that calves ate the plastic and died.

Throughout the spring of 2019, Nicholas Diemel pressed Nelson for payment for his cattle.  He sent no more loads of cattle to Nelson while he awaited his payment.

To deprive the Diemels of their cattle or their money and to prevent them from recovering either their cattle or their money, in June 2019 Nelson fraudulently sent the Diemels a bad check for $215,936 while his bank account had a balance of 21 cents. The check had been intentionally torn and damaged so that it could not be submitted for payment.

Nelson told the Diemels they could come to Missouri to get their money. On July 17, 2019, Nicholas Diemel bought two round-trip airline tickets from Milwaukee to Kansas City. On July 20, 2019, Nicholas and Justin Diemel arrived in Kansas City and rented a pickup truck from Budget.

On July 21, 2019, the Diemels drove their rental truck to Nelson’s mother’s farm in Braymer. Nelson’s mother and other family members were in Branson for the weekend, so Nelson was alone on the farm. Nelson murdered both of the Diemels and attempted to dispose of their bodies, but the remains were later found by investigators.

Nelson also was in possession of a Marlin 30-30 rifle and ammunition from July 18 to July 21, 2019.  Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Nelson has a 2015 federal felony conviction for an earlier cattle fraud scheme that resulted in losses of more than $262,000 to his victims, as well as two prior state felony convictions for passing bad checks.

According to court documents, Nelson engaged in at least two more cattle fraud schemes. In December 2018, Nelson was entrusted with feeding and caring for 131 calves he co-owned with a Kansas farmer (less than a year after he was released from prison for his 2015 conviction and in direct contravention to the conditions of his supervised release). On May 23, 2019, Nelson dropped off 35 calves at the co-owner’s farm in Kansas, apparently all that survived of the 131. Of the surviving 35 calves, many were emaciated and had ringworm; some could not even walk onto a truck to be transported. Some calves had their ears torn as though identifying ear tags had been removed.

According to court documents, those calves were involved in another cattle fraud scheme engaged by Nelson. Nelson told a Bogard, Mo., farmer that he would furnish all the food and medicine for 131 bottle calves and pay the farmer a dollar per day per calf for the use of his barn and the time he would spend feeding the calves. Nelson bought almost no food or medicine for the calves in the five months he kept them at the Bogard farm. Instead, the farmer paid $14,363 out of his own pocket for food and veterinary care for the calves. Nor did Nelson ever pay anything to the farmer for the use of his barn and time spent feeding and caring for the calves as he had promised. (Nelson’s mother later paid the farmer $2,000.) In late April 2019, Nelson picked up the living bottle calves from the Bogard farm and took them to his mother’s farm. On May 23, 2019, Nelson dumped the 35 remaining calves without warning at the Kansas farm. This was a problem because the Kansas farmer had a closed dairy herd and bringing unvaccinated and potentially diseased calves onto his property put his existing herd at risk.

On Sept. 30, 2022, Nelson pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the first degree in Johnson County, Mo., and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on each count to run consecutively.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen D. Mahoney and Nicholas Heberle. It was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, the Caldwell County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Bourbon County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Updated April 24, 2023

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