WHEELER, Texas — Jaimie “Jim Bob” Jernigan, 46, pled guilty to charges of theft of livestock and obstruction, both third-degree felonies. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Ben Eggleston.
In May 2015, Eggleston was contacted by an area cattle raiser and the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office. He was advised that three months prior, the cattle raiser had made a verbal agreement with Jernigan to sell a bull and return the proceeds of the sale. Jernigan took possession of the bull in February 2015 and reportedly sold it in Colorado soon after. However, he never returned the earnings to the rancher as promised. The bull’s owner and local law enforcement officers contacted Jernigan several times to resolve the matter, but without success.
Eggleston continued the investigation, and contacted Colorado brand inspection authorities in an attempt to locate the bull. He soon received word from a Colorado brand inspector, who located the bull and confirmed that it had indeed been purchased by private treaty in the state. After confirming the animal’s identity, Eggleston and local law enforcement personally traveled to Colorado to take possession of the stolen bull. Within little more than week, Eggleston had returned the bull to its rightful owner.
Jernigan was subsequently charged with theft of livestock and obstruction or retaliation. The case was brought to a close on Sept. 21, 2017, when he entered a guilty plea on both counts. The case was adjudicated in the 31st District Court, Wheeler County, Texas, and presided over by Judge Steven Emmert. As a condition of the plea bargain, Jernigan received deferred sentences of 10 years on the theft of livestock charge, and four years on the obstruction charge. He was also ordered to pay restitution, fines and court costs totaling more than $5,200.
“It often takes a team effort to investigate and prosecute these crimes, and this case was no exception,” said Eggleston. “I would like to thank everyone who assisted with the investigation, especially the Wheeler, Lipscomb and Hemphill County Sheriff’s Offices, as well as Colorado Brand Inspection Director Cris Whitney and Inspectors Dan Buhr and Deb Vernon.”