A Pueblo cattle investment operator was recently sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $5 million in restitution for his role in a complicated cattle investment fraud scheme that spanned nearly seven years.
Richard K. Sears, 73, of Pueblo, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering in May and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn on Dec. 9, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced in a news release on Dec. 11.
In addition to the nearly three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, the judge ordered Sears to pay $4,969,384 in restitution to his victims. Following his incarceration, he must also serve three years of supervised release.
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According to Sears’ grand jury indictment, he began defrauding investors in June 2008 in a scheme in which he said he would develop a new breed of cattle called the Rocky Mountain Romangus — a breed that did not then exist.
For a set “entry fee,” Sears claimed he would purchase a specific number of cows for the investor’s benefit, according to the indictment.
Sears claimed he would then “lease back” the cattle for a set period — usually a three or five-year lease term — and be responsible for paying all the related cattle costs including feed, care, management and breeding.
Sears also agreed to pay the investors an annual “cash…