THOMASVILLE — Cattle valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing — and so is the money.
In late 2020, the Thomas County Sheriff's Office received a complaint from a local stock yard about bad checks the business received.
"A gentleman from Hartford, Alabama, doing business as Bennett Cattle Company, purchased cattle with a check," said Capt. Tim Watkins, sheriff's office chief investigator.
There was no money to cover the $248,000 check, Watkins said, adding that Bennett was a regular customer at the stock yard.
A second check to the stock yard —for $149,000 — was returned because of insufficient funds.
Investigators met with Brent Edward Bennet and his attorney. Watkins said Bennett told investigators he writes checks and wires the money the next day.
Bennett refused to produce requested bank documents and wired money for the $149,000 check to the victim's bank account.
Investigators met with Bennett and a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector. Meanwhile, invoices discovered at the stock yard show Bennett has other unpaid bills.
Watkins said Bennett owes the stock yard $383,000, according to records obtained by the sheriff's office and USDA.
Bennett, 37, is charged with theft by deception. He was released from the Thomas County Jail on a $10,100 bond.
Watkins said Bennett bought cattle from the stock yard and sold the cattle to feed lots, Watkins added.
The whereabouts of the cattle is unknown.
The U.S. Secret Service has entered the investigation.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820