theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

November 13, 2013

Alleged cattle rustler turns self in Tuesday

Randy Mitchell Special Correspondent
www.theadanews.com

Ada — A man wanted for allegedly stealing cattle from a Pontotoc County ranch turned himself in to authorities Tuesday.

Larry Gene Smith Jr., 48, Atwood, who had a warrant for suspicion of larceny of domestic cattle, walked into Pontotoc County Justice Center around noon with his attorney and turned himself in. He later appeared by video before Judge Steven Kessinger. Kessinger entered a plea of not guilty on Smith’s behalf and kept his bond at $500,000, the same amount issued along with the arrest warrant.

Agents with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry believe Smith, along with another man, 48-year-old David Lynn Wallace of Atwood, stole nearly 100 head of cattle. Wallace was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of larceny of domestic cattle.

Smith’s attorney said he turned himself in because he was tired of running and didn’t do it sooner because he had some things to get in order beforehand. Jerry Flowers, chief agent of the law enforcement division for ODAFF, said Smith also had no place to go.

“Nobody would have anything to do with him because harboring a fugitive in this state (carries) a stiff penalty,” Flowers said Tuesday, “and that’s what we’ve been telling folks. If anyone harbored him, they were going to wind up getting in trouble right along with him, and it just wasn’t worth that.”

Flowers said ODAFF special agents and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers searched all around southeast Oklahoma for Smith, which kept the pressure on him. Smith is due back in court Dec. 19.

According to an affidavit filed by ODAFF Agent Ricky Rushing, the cattle were reported missing in early October by Jet McCoy, who is the caretaker of the cattle owned by Randy Heflin. Heflin had 179 steers weighing between 500 and 700 pounds on land leased near Allen, according to the affidavit.

Agents investigating the theft said they discovered at least 43 of the steers were sold at Atoka Livestock Auction from September through October. Rushing wrote in the affidavit that David Wallace had previously worked for the owner of the land but was fired in September. According to the affidavit, Rushing spoke with Smith on Oct. 22.

“Under Miranda, Smith confessed that he did steal steers from Heflin/McCoy Ranch and was accompanied by Wallace,” Rushing wrote. “Smith explained how it was Wallace’s idea since Wallace had worked on the ranch and had a key to the gate. About two or three months ago, Wallace called Smith asking him to haul some calves for him.”

Smith reportedly said he and Wallace made several trips to Atoka Livestock Auction, hauling “about six to nine stolen steers during each trip to the livestock auction during the months of September and October of 2013,” Rushing wrote.

Investigators reportedly discovered evidence that Smith and Wallace had sold steers in the last few months. They tracked down the steers at various ranches around southern Oklahoma and confirmed they were the missing steers which belonged to Heflin, according to the affidavit.

After speaking with agents, Smith reportedly disappeared until he turned himself in Tuesday.