It was the moo-ther of all scams.
A Colorado rancher has been sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison for bilking investors out of nearly $5 million in a cattle ponzi scheme straight out of the Wild West.
Richard K. Sears, 73, of Pueblo, admitted selling investors on the idea that he was developing a new breed of high-altitude cattle — the Rocky Mountain Romangus — that prosecutors say didn’t yet exist.
A longtime hunting outfitter, Sears pleaded guilty in May to mail fraud. Prosecutors say he began enlisting backers in 2008 through mailings targeting people with hunting licenses.
“‘Creative fraudsters may go to great lengths to hide their crimes, but we are going to uncover them.‘”
Sears’s proposal was to use investors’ cash to purchase Angus cows he would then lease back to mate with Romagnola bulls, a breed whose history can be traced to the late 19th century in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Prosecutors said Sears offered to handle managing the herd and to cover all costs…