RBC | Former county extension agent Bill Ekstrom was arrested Thursday, Oct. 24 on 12 felony charges ranging from wrongful branding to cattle theft to concealing estrays, according to a press release received from the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office.
An estray is defined as “a domestic animal that is wandering at large or is lost.”
The arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office and the State of Colorado Brand Inspectors Office.
According to the arrest affidavit, Colorado Brand Inspector Casey Griffith received information at the end of August from David Smith that he suspected two of his cows were on Ekstrom property and it “appeared as though the cows had been rebranded” with Ekstrom’s brand.
Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Jeremy Muxlow received a complaint of cattle theft on Sept. 9, 2019.
On Oct. 8, 2019, Muxlow obtained a search warrant for the Ekstrom property. Twenty cows for which brand inspectors could not verify Ekstrom’s legal possession were seized. Of those 20, 11 have since been returned to Ekstrom; four may have been purchased from unknown and individuals but no verification was available; and the five remaining cattle are believed to have belonged to Smith and rebranded with the Ekstrom brand. Smith does not sell cattle privately to Rio Blanco County residents, according to the arrest affidavit.
Muxlow requested an interview with Ekstrom, who initially agreed to meet at the Sheriff’s Office, then told Muxlow that their legal representation advised them not to come in for the interview, at which time Muxlow sought the arrest warrant.
Ekstrom was taken into custody without incident on three counts of wrongful branding (class 6 felony), three counts of theft of cattle (class 4 felony), three counts of who may take up estrays (class 6 felony) and three counts of concealing estrays (class 6 felony). He later bonded out on a $37,500 bond.
Ekstrom’s first court appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2019, in Rio Blanco County Combined Court.
By Niki Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org