James Ralph Duke, 32, was arrested at 7:09 p.m. Tuesday following investigations by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department along with Special Ranger Scott Williamson of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association that showed that the total loss to all parties from the alleged cattle theft is around $15,000.
According to a statement filed by Jackson County Sheriff Roger LeVick, on Oct. 2, after receiving information that Duke had sold several head of cattle in recent months, he contacted Williamson, who obtained a subpoena for Duke's banking records. Turns out Duke does not own any cattle.
On Tuesday both LeVick and Williamson interviewed Duke in reference to 23 head of cattle that were sold in his name at various Oklahoma auctions beginning in May.
According to the statement:
Duke was employed by John Gover as a horse trainer and did day work as a cowboy for several Duke area residents.
Duke told the lawmen that on May 26 he roped and tied down two heifers on land southwest of Duke. One of the heifers belonged to Brandon Hickey, who had given the heifer to Duke for wages owed. The other belonged to Rowdie Little, who denied giving Duke permission to sell his heifer. Both heifers were sold to the Hollis livestock auction where they fetched $858.15.
On June 27 Duke said he roped, tied down and pulled into a livestock trailer three heifers on land located on the Jackson County side of the Red River bottom land. The “unmarked” cattle were sold for $1,499.28 at the OKC West livestock auction.
On July 9 Duke sold 17 heifers belonging to his employer, Gover, who denied giving him permission to do so. The sale brought in another $9,370.60.
On July 24, Charles (Bud) Duke, no relation, sold two heifers with Brandon Hickey's brand on them in Vernon, Texas, for $1,433.10 and on Sept. 8 Charles Duke hired James Duke to help gather the rest of his cattle to be sold. James Duke noticed a Hickey brand heifer, which he roped and loaded. Charles Duke wrote James Duke a personal check for the net proceeds from his sale of the Hickey cattle. James Duke took the heifer he'd roped to the Hollis livestock auction and sold her in his name. Hickey's total loss from the theft of his three heifers came to $2,175.60, the gross sale price of the cattle.
Two other area men have been arrested in recent thefts and are believed to be part of a broader gang, along with Duke, that is working in both Texas and Oklahoma along the Red River V alley.
Nathan Bradley Roberson, 24, of 1905 Willard in Altus, is jailed on a bond of $25,000, charged with larceny of domestic animals in the theft and sale of nine Black Angus cattle in September. The heifers and steers, stolen from Cody Glynn Cribbs at a pasture located a mile south and a mile west of the intersection of East County Road 164 and South County Road 196, fetched Roberson a $4,697.70 check from Hollis Commission Inc.
Meanwhile, Clayton Buck Stephens, 23, of 315 E. 6th. St. in Duke, is charged with second degree burglary in a recent incident in which he and a couple accomplices allegedly attempted to break into a barn at 16389 South County Road 217. Stephens is under a $35,000 personal recognizance bond and has entered treatment at Cushing Valley Hope in Cushing. Stephens also told Sheriff's deputies that he and another man broke into D & M Accessories south of Altus on U.S. Highway 283 and stole some hand tools as well as 15 to 20 old radiators.