Connecticut’s colonial homes, temperate forests, and mild climate are nearly as far removed from the Old West as can be found in the Continental United States. However, earlier this week, a Rhode Island farmer was accused of cattle rustling, and Old West style crime that evokes images of cowboys and rolling prairies.
Ledyard Lewis, a Rhode Island resident, was arrested earlier this week. Lewis turned himself in after confessing to stealing fourteen cows from Connecticut farmer Arthur F. Smith. Lewis was released after posting a $10,000 bond and promising to return for trial.
The cattle theft, according to Lewis, was the result of a long-term debt owed to him by Smith. Both men have frequently done business, often using the honor system. In recent months, this system broke down and Lewis, fearing he would not be repaid, stole the fourteen cows to recoup his money.
Smith said he was shocked that Lewis would do this. While he acknowledged he owed Lewis money, he claims it was nowhere near the estimated $50,000 value of the stolen cows.
While Smith had hoped that Lewis’ confession would mean a swift return of his livestock, the investigation has run into a snag. Since the stolen cows were mixed in with Lewis’ herd, they must be quarantined and cleared by the Connecticut Agriculture Department. In addition, the cows were purchased with money provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture loans (the USDA currently owns liens on the cows). Federal involvement could further complicate the return of Smith’s animals.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer