Former Lincoln County District Judge indicted on cattle theft charges

The leader of a confessed cattle theft ring was handed 4 indictments by an Oklahoma multi-county grand jury Thursday. Former Lincoln County District Judge Craig Key, 48, of Chandler, Okla., was indicted on 26 felony charges, including embezzlement and cattle theft. Key received 5 charges in April and May 2013. The indictments were sealed until Thursday.

Craig Key

Craig Key

According to TSCRA Special Ranger Kent Dowell, who investigated the cattle theft that led to the charges, 11 head of cattle were stolen in October 2012 from a northern Lincoln County rancher. Key is alleged to have directed the theft. Further investigations by Dowell revealed that Key may be involved in numerous fraud and embezzlement schemes. According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, the former attorney is accused of embezzling more than $475,000 from  clients.

Four other individuals were also charged in connection with the crimes.

“This is very complex investigation involving multiple suspects and multiple crimes,” said Dowell. “At the end of the day, though, this investigation started with a rancher noticing his cattle were missing, and thankfully, we were able to locate those stolen cattle and return them back to the owner.”

The grand jury will reconvene Aug. 20 to 22 to hear more witness statements. Dowell says he expects more indictments to be handed down, including charges for racketeering.

Key bonded out of the Lincoln County Jail on Friday.

TSCRA would like to thank Attorney General Investigator David Driscoll for his hard work on this investigation.