Easterday Bankruptcy Nears Completion

Tyson to Offer Liquidation Plan for Ranch at Center of Bill Gates Land Pursuit


By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer



LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The criminal sentencing of former eastern Washington rancher Cody Allen Easterday has been stayed for a fourth time until later this summer, as the bankruptcy case for Easterday Ranches Inc. is nearing a conclusion. Easterday was scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges in a so-called "ghost-cattle" scheme.


In a joint motion to stay the sentencing to Aug. 10, Easterday attorneys and attorneys for the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation told the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Washington this week the debtors in a related bankruptcy case, including Tyson Fresh Meats, plan to file a joint plan to liquidate Easterday's ranch assets.


Easterday has been involved in an ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy dispute regarding the proceeds from a $209 million sale of his farm and ranch assets to pay creditors.


The Easterday Ranches property was sold to Farmland Reserve for $209 million after the company connected to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints outbid an investment company tied to Microsoft founder Bill Gates.


In the joint motion to stay the criminal sentencing, attorneys said they are hopeful a settlement can be negotiated.


"All holders of unsecured claims will be entitled to vote for the approval or rejection of the plan," Easterday's attorneys said in a motion before the district court.


"It is anticipated that the plan will hopefully be approved by the end of July. Based upon the expected timing of an approved plan for liquidation in the bankruptcy proceeding the parties, Cody Easterday and Commodities Futures Trading Commission, request an additional approximate 90 days."


Easterday operated an extensive family farm operation in eastern Washington involved in cattle feeding as well as 22,500 acres of potatoes, onions, corn and wheat in the Columbia Basin...