BUFFALO, Okla. — Johnny Ray Simmons, 52, of Stilwell, in early September surrendered to Harper County authorities on six counts of embezzlement. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Brett Wellden.
Wellden initiated the investigation in 2017 after being contacted by the victim, who stated that he and Simmons had partnered on a herd of cattle pastured on tribal lease lands in Northeastern Oklahoma. When the lease expired, the victim moved the cattle from the property and alleged that 103 were missing.
Through the course of the investigation, it was also discovered that Simmons failed, for several years, to pay the victim for calf crops as required by their agreement. Court records indicate that Simmons was previously convicted on two counts of embezzlement out of Adair County in March 2018. The facts involved in the prior conviction have striking similarities to the current case being investigated by Wellden.
A warrant was issued for Simmons’ arrest Aug. 29 and he surrendered to authorities on Sept. 12, 2018. Simmons was subsequently booked into the Harper County Jail and released on a $150,000 bond. He now faces six counts of felony embezzlement, each of which carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison, fines of up to $10,000 and restitution to the victim.
Wellden advised cattle producers to be vigilant and keep good documentation to prevent similar crimes.
“Written agreements, thorough record keeping and vigilance provide essential evidence to ensure justice will prevail,” said Wellden. “It is extremely important that producers be proactive in instituting these protections, especially when entering into partnerships with others.”
TSCRA and Wellden would like to thank everyone involved in the case, especially the Harper County Sheriff’s Office and Harper County District Attorney’s Office for their aggressive prosecution of the case.