A Fort Collins cattle business is accusing a Utah feedlot operator of running a rustling scheme that cheated the company out of more than 850 animals worth nearly $2 million.
Titan Feeding LLC filed a lawsuit in Larimer County District Court last month alleging that the Corey Cattle Company sold Titan’s cattle out from under it while continuing to charge for the animals’ food and care.
The feedlot company has denied the allegations and vowed to disprove them.
The relationship between the two companies dates to 2017 when Titan, headquartered in downtown Fort Collins, first agreed to buy cattle from Corey, according to the complaint.
In those dealings, Corey Cattle owner Michael Corey agreed to house and feed the animals on his property in Delta, Utah, keep records of their care, send Titan feed bills and, finally, repurchase the cattle when they reached a certain weight. Instead, Corey sold nearly half of Titan’s herd while sending falsified billing statements and collecting money for their food, the lawsuit claims.
“While it held custody of Titan’s cattle, Defendants stole the cattle, sold the cattle, and pocketed the money,” the suit reads. “Defendants acknowledged that the cattle were gone and confessed to having severe financial problems.”
The suit details an alleged pattern of behavior at Corey starting with a purchase Titan made in July 2017. Through that contract, Titan bought 564 head of cattle. At least 20 of those animals, worth more than of $49,000, were stolen by Corey then “either sold … or otherwise transferred or disposed of them without Titan’s authorization,” the plaintiff claims.
The alleged rustling accelerated under subsequent contracts between the two companies. In an August 2017 contract, Titan claims it agreed to buy, feed and resell 479 head of cross Wagyu cattle from Corey. At least 369 of those animals were stolen, Titan claims, resulting in a loss of more than $840,000.
It’s not clear what alerted Titan, but on June 29 the company sent trucks to Corey’s lot to retrieve all of the cattle it owned. The trucks picked up 958 animals but another 858 were missing, according to the suit.
Titan puts that value of the stolen cattle at more than $1.91 million. The company is seeking financial compensation for the stolen animals, for cattle allegedly sold for lower prices than dictated in contracts, for disruptions to Titan’s cash flow and operations and other damages.
Titan claims Corey stole cattle from other customers as well. The company and its lawyers are working to identify co-conspirators in the alleged rustling scheme, the suit says.
The Corey company and Michael Corey are being represented by Denver law firm Davis Graham & Stubbs in the case. Davis Graham & Stubbs attorney Aditi Kulkarni-Knight wrote in an email to The Denver Post on Monday that “Corey Cattle strongly disagrees with the accusations and looks forward to refuting the allegations in the complaint.”