Truckers, mill operator sentenced in $2 million 'ghost load' scam

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Monday, April 07, 2014

At least four people have been sentenced for their roles in an alleged scheme to defraud Cargill Inc., out of more than $2 million over a nine-year period.

According to court documents, Cargill security personnel contacted the Missouri Highway Patrol in November 2012 after discovering accounting discrepancies for loads they paid for but never received.

Don Ledford, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, told Land Line on Friday, April, 4, that this has been a complicated case because all of the men involved in the alleged fraud were not charged together at the same time.

“Part of the issue was that some of the defendants chose to waive their right to a grand jury and decided to plead guilty, while others chose to have their cases presented to a grand jury and have the grand jury vote on whether to indict them,” Ledford said.

Court documents allege that several trucking company owners approached Jeffrey Hobbs about an alleged scam to create “fictitious scale tickets for non-delivered loads of corn as a way to make money and ultimately defraud the owner of the feed mill.”

Hobbs worked as a scale operator and pellet mill operator at the feed mill in Butterfield, Mo.,  from 1999 until March 2013. In return for creating the fake scale tickets for “ghost loads,” Hobbs received between $300 and $500 each time from individuals involved in the scheme, according to court documents.

The four individuals who have been sentenced include Hobbs, 41, of Exeter, Mo.; Lyle E. Tourtillott, 68, of Nevada, Mo.; Bob True Beisly III, 40, of Nevada, Mo.; and Ronald Bunn, 45, of Deerfield, Mo.

Hobbs was sentenced to two years and eight months in federal prison in November 2013 after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Tourtillott, who worked for his brother who owned T&T Grain, has been sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison without parole on April 1. He pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud.

Beisly, who owned K & B Grain, was sentenced to two years and 11 months in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.

Bunn, who owned RB Grain, was sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty in Nov. 2013.

Terry David Heffernan, who pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, is awaiting sentencing. Heffernan drove for T&T Grain, which was owned by Gary Tourtillott’s brother.

Bob True Beisly II, father of Bob True Beisly III, has been charged with two counts of mail fraud, but has not been convicted for his alleged role in the ghost load scheme. Ledford said the senior Beisly is in state custody awaiting trial for allegedly murdering his wife. He was charged with one count of first degree murder in February 2013, nearly four years after his wife was found dead in her home in July 2009.

Ledford said the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the ghost load cases, which were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney.

Ledford said each of the defendants is jointly and severally liable for making restitution to Cargill, headquartered in Minnesota, for its financial losses, estimated at more than $2 million over a nine-year span.

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