Man found guilty of cattle rustling

April 15, 2009 5:50:28 AM PDT
A northeastern Montana man was convicted of stealing 39 head of cattle in what appears to be the state's biggest cattle-rustling case in decades.

Richard D. Holen, of Wolf Point, was convicted last week in Roosevelt County of eight counts of felony theft - one for each neighboring rancher he was accused of stealing from. Holen is in custody awaiting sentencing.

Roosevelt County Attorney Ryan Rusche, who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday that it's been a long time since Montana has seen cattle rustling on this scale.

"I couldn't find any (comparable cases) later than the early 1900s," Rusche told The Associated Press. "There've been others, but they've all been single animals."

Rusche said the investigation began in September after a tribal game warden saw Holen moving cattle into some brush. Rusche said Holen later called the warden and complained about why he was watching him.

The investigation turned up 33 cows, calves, bulls and heifers that didn't belong to Holen among his herd, and another six stolen cows and calves that he sold to someone else. Some of the stolen cattle were rebranded or had altered brands, Rusche said.

Holen faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each of the eight counts.

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