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story.lead_photo.caption Jay Lee Parker

FORT SMITH -- An Arkansas man faces 382 criminal charges after an investigation by special rangers from Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and investigators with the Arkansas Agriculture Department, authorities said Monday.

On Oct. 9, Jay Lee Parker, 43, of Waldron surrendered to the LeFlore County Sheriff's Office in Oklahoma on one of the counts, which was knowingly receiving stolen property (cattle), according to a news release from the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Parker was then booked into the Leflore County jail and later released on a $30,000 bond.

Special Ranger Bart Perrier, who led the association's portion of the investigation with the assistance of another special ranger, Kenneth Wadsworth, said Parker had a one-year contract with a Texas rancher to care for 435 cows and 61 calves. However, near the end of the contract period in fall 2018, the rancher "discovered a substantial portion of the cattle under Parker's care were dead or unaccounted for," according to Perrier.

Parker sold 54 head of cattle at the LeFlore County Livestock Auction in Wister, Okla., according to the news release. He received nearly $30,000 that should have gone to the Texas rancher, the authorities said.

Officials said they believe Parker sold 29 head of the victim's cattle at the Waldron Livestock Market. Numerous other cattle also "died due to poor living conditions and neglect by Parker," the news release stated. Because of this, two charges for theft of leased property over $25,000, and 379 counts of cruelty to animals were filed in Scott County, according to the news release. Parker was arrested on those charges May 20, and was afterward freed on bond.

Billy Black, chief of law enforcement for the Arkansas Agriculture Department, led the investigation there, according to the release.

If convicted, the release stated the charge in Oklahoma could result in a sentence of 3 to 10 years in prison and fines for Parker. In Arkansas, the two theft charges carry a penalty of six years apiece, and every animal cruelty charge could land him in prison for up to a year.

NW News on 10/30/2019

Print Headline: Waldron man arrests in cattle probe, faces 400 charges

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