If you grew up watching Western movies as I did, you’re familiar with the cowboy’s dastardly adversary — the cattle rustler. Turns out that the Wild West practice of swiping cattle (or money) from under somebody’s nose isn’t dying with the rest of the cowboy life.

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A Sweetwater man named Stewart Kile Williams has been sentenced to roughly 15 years in prison after staging two different scams in Texas. The real cowpie-kicker? He committed the second scam while on trial for the first one.

The First Scam

Williams was first found guilty of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in 2019. He had impersonated his former employer, Jones Alto Colorado Ranch, through phone and email to collect money from another cattle outfit, Wyatt Ranches, for the sale of cattle that Jones Ranch didn’t have. Williams was sentenced to 6 years in prison, and to pay $2 million of restitution out of the $2.5 million he made off the nonexistent cattle.

The Second Scam

While on pretrial release for the first scam, Williams whipped up another scam, this time in the oil industry. Williams formed an unregistered company doing freight transport and trenching in Permian Basin oilfields. He then went into agreement with a financing company, who then prepaid Williams based on phony invoices for work he’d done for a pipeline operator in Texas and Louisiana.

The financing company was left with the $12.3 million bill when they discovered none of the work had been completed. Williams used the funds for construction equipment and an expensive home in Abilene.

The United States Department of Justice has released that the second, separate fraud case doubled Williams’ prison sentence and brought along new charges.

For the curious, that brings Williams’ grand total to 6 counts of wire fraud, 2 counts of money laundering, 1 count of aggravated identity theft, $9.4 million in retribution owed...and 15 years in prison. In his defense, a fake phone number and some sketchy oilfield invoices are much more efficient than waiting for the cover of night to commit theft.

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