Owner of Fink Farms Indicted on Multiple Fraud Charges Involving Cattle Operation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 19, 2010|
ST. LOUIS, MO—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Steven Fink, owner of Fink Farms, has been indicted on multiple charges involving his cattle operation in Bevier, Missouri.
Fink owns and operates Fink Farms, specializing in the "backgrounding" of cattle, which involves receiving cattle from customers and feeding them in preparation for feedlots. Fink is paid based on the amount of weight gained by the cattle while they are in his care.
According to the indictment, two cattlemen in Iowa supply cattle to packing houses in Iowa. From August 2009 until April 2010, they agreed to send cattle to Fink for backgrounding and would pay 65 cents for every pound that their cattle gained while at Fink's farm. They also agreed to pay $10 per head for vaccinations when the cattle arrived and "yardage," i.e., expenses related to backgrounding the cattle. The amount paid for yardage by the cattlemen would be deducted from the amount paid for the weight gain of the cattle. Between August 2009 and March 2010, they shipped approximately 1,810 head of cattle in multiple loads to Fink for backgrounding.
Between January 2008 and April 2010, Fink repeatedly assured the cattlemen that their cattle were doing very well when he knew that many cattle, including their cattle, had died. Fink knew that the cattlemen would not continue to send cattle if they knew that many of the cattle had died. The indictment alleges that Fink continued to bill them for yardage despite the death loss of the cattle. The loss to the cattlemen alleged in the indictment is approximately $400,000.
Another farmer who buys and sells cattle shipped 943 head of cattle to Fink for backgrounding and agreed to pay 48 to 50 cents for every pound that his cattle gained. Some of his cattle also died and Fink defrauded him in the same fashion causing a loss of approximately $169,000.
Two other farmers shipped approximately 2,083 head of cattle for backgrounding. The loss to those two farmers as alleged in the indictment is approximately $302,900.
Finally, the indictment states that Fink lied to an FBI special agent when questioned about the out of trust sale of cattle belonging to some of his customers. The indictment also states that Fink lied to the agent concerning the fact that he had other people sell cattle on his behalf under their names, although Fink received the funds from those sales of the cattle.
STEVEN FINK, Bevier, Missouri, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two felony counts of wire fraud, three felony counts of mail fraud, and four felony counts of making false statements to federal agents.
If convicted, each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000; each count of making false statements carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.
This case was investigated by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Kirksville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Carrie Costantin is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.