Cody Easterday pleads guilty in federal court to defrauding Tyson in ghost herd case

After Cody Easterday graduated from high school, he borrowed money for his first combine. All he wanted to do was farm, his attorney said.

Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Easterday, 49, of Mesa, Washington, and his family then built an agricultural empire that included farming more than 20,000 acres, feeding thousands of cattle and several other spin-off businesses that marketed everything about the rural life.

That American success story has spiraled into a quagmire of legal troubles, bankruptcies and now a criminal conviction. Easterday pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

“For years,

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