For Immediate Release: Dec. 4, 2012
Contact: Carmen Fenton, 512-469-0171
Muskogee, Okla. – A second suspect pleaded guilty Friday to livestock theft charges after stealing cattle from a Muskogee County rancher in September 2011.
Joseph Tanner Harper, 20, of Haskell, Okla., was sentenced to 2, five-year deferred sentences to run concurrently and over $5,000 in fines and court costs in Muskogee County after he was convicted of stealing 18 head of cattle from one rancher and a stock trailer from another.
Harper also pleaded guilty in Wagoner County for stealing a pickup truck. He was sentenced to a 5-year deferred sentence to run concurrently with the other 2 sentences and 1 year in rehab.
The initial arrest was made in September 2011 when then 25-year-old Billy Chris Barnett III, also of Haskell, Okla., was charged and convicted with the same cattle theft and theft of the stock trailer and additional cattle pens that were used in the transport of the stolen cattle.
Barnett was sentenced to 6 years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODC) and a 12-year suspended sentence.
According to Texas and Southwestern Cattle Association Special Ranger John Cummings, at the time of the thefts, areas in and around Muskogee, Wagoner and Okmulgee counties were experiencing several cattle and equipment thefts.
“It’s our goal to see these types of investigations brought to successful conclusions so that victims can move forward with their lives,” said Cummings. “Now that both suspects have been charged and sentenced, we expect this to serve as a deterrent for future ag crimes in this area.”
TSCRA would like to thank Rae Lea Spears and Faye Banks, investigators with the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office; Dustin Dorr, investigator with the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office; and special agent Kent Dowell with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.
TSCRA has 30 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
TSCRA is a 135 year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 15,000 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 50,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, but throughout the Southwest.