herd of cattle standing near house
A pinedale man was pled guilty to illegally grazing cattle on BTNF land. He was ordered to pay $15,000. Photo: David Dolenc

PINEDALE, Wyo. — Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced today, Nov. 3,  that a 67-year-old man from Pinedale, Wyoming pleaded guilty on Oct. 18 in front of Chief United States Magistrate Judge Kelly H. Rankin for providing false information to a forest officer, allowing unauthorized livestock on national forest land, and violating the terms and conditions of a grazing permit. He was ordered to pay $15,000 in fines.

A multi-state investigation initiated in 2017 involving alleged fraud, embezzlement, and theft of livestock in California, resulted in evidence of grazing violations occurring in the Upper Green River Cattle allotment on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The investigation revealed a suspect in California had shipped livestock to the Rendezvous Ranch in Pinedale, Wyoming. The case was referred to U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations when the state uncovered information indicating a significant number of illegally rebranded cattle had been moved into the national forest.

The Rendezvous Ranch possessed a term grazing permit that required the ranch to graze only cattle that it owned on national forest lands. The investigation revealed that the suspect, then manager of the Pinedale-based Rendezvous Ranch, acknowledged the terms of the grazing permit in writing and admitted he had been engaged in a business relationship with the suspect in California.

Records obtained by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement revealed multiple payments issued from the California suspect to the Pinedale man in connection with the cattle even though the ranch legally owned no cattle.

Evidence obtained during the investigation revealed that numerous head of cattle, shipped to the Rendezvous Ranch, were illegally rebranded, giving the appearance of a legitimate transfer.

Rebranded cattle were released onto the Bridger-Teton National Forest in violation of several permit provisions aimed at protection of range resources, and utilization of public land range allotments. The cattle were seized by the state in the fall of 2017, at which time the Pinedale man signed an affidavit disavowing ownership of approximately 370 head. The Rendezvous Ranch changed ownership in the months that followed.

“The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to the protection of Rangeland resources and upholding the integrity of the livestock industry in the state of Wyoming,” said Acting United States Attorney, Bob Murray.

This case was investigated by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations with
assistance from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in California and the Wyoming Livestock Board.

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.