A court-appointed investigator reports a South Dakota man involved in a foreclosure case sold the same cattle to as many as four different parties, leaving 27,800 cattle unaccounted for.
The multi-million dollar case began unfolding last month when First Dakota National Bank filed a foreclosure against Robert and Becky Blom, Corsica, S.D. At a hearing in Armour, S.D. on Feb. 14, nine law firms filed notices of appearances in the case representing 17 additional parties. Lew Dirks, an investigator from Sioux Falls, was named the court-appointed receiver.
Now, nearly a month after the first hearing, 53 interested parties have been identified, and an interim report filed by Dirks on March 5 indicated that as of Feb. 14, only 15% of the cattle were in Blom’s four feedlots, and some parties had received checks that bounced.
"At the time of the hearing on February 14, 2019, I had not determined a reason for being short so many head of cattle," Dirks wrote in his interim report as reported by the Mitchell Republic. Dirks said he had originally planned to start sorting out which cattle belonged to whom by looking for brands. A day after the hearing, however, Dirks said he was approached by someone who said he had seen the same invoice in both his own and another party's paperwork.
"Investigation revealed that Robert Blom had collected money on the same group of cattle from multiple individuals," Dirks wrote. "I now have some groups of cattle being sold to as many as four different individuals."
Dirks’ interim report also stated that while he was at the Blom feedlot on Feb. 8, he was told that up to 35 truckloads of cattle had been removed from the feedlots the previous day, although he has not seen paperwork to verify how many head of cattle that might have included. The Mitchell Republic reported that Dirks had documentation that cattle had been moved back and forth between Robert and Becky Blom's feedlot and the feedlot run by their son, Taylor Blom.
"At this time, I have no explanation as to why cattle were moved back and forth," Dirks wrote.
The owners of two feedlots have filed liens on the cattle in their lots and told Dirks they had not been paid for feed and yardage for December and January, resulting in outstanding bills totaling $416,795.78. Dirks told the court he estimates the cost of keeping the cattle in those feedlots and caring for them, every additional week cattle are not sold will incur $84,000 in expenses.
Also identified in the interim report are claims from two people who said they paid Robert Blom a total of $526,000 to cover the purchase of corn to feed their cattle.