Fitzgerald man handed federal court sentence, two found illegally in southwest Georgia

 A Florida man arrested following a high-speed chase along Interstate 75 after he robbed a traveler at gunpoint, has pleaded guilty for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

VALDOSTA – An Alabama livestock broker admitted he conducted cattle deals but never paid farmers money they were due, instead diverting the profits for his personal use, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Charlie Peeler said.

Tommy W. Baxley, 72, of Slocumb, Ala., pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of livestock theft before U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson. Baxley faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

Baxley was a registered livestock dealer doing business as Tri State Cattle Marketing. From September 2017 to February 2018, he brokered five separate feeder cattle deals with farmers in North Carolina, Mississippi and Moultrie. Baxley never paid the farmers who sold him the cattle, stealing $414,265.45. Baxley admitted to investigators that he failed to pay the farmers for the cattle and instead used the money in the hopes of making more money so he might ultimately pay for the cattle.

“Cattle rustlers and others who steal from our hard-working farmers and ranchers will face federal prosecution in the Middle District of Georgia,” Peeler said in a news release. “I want to thank the U.S. Secret Service, the Colquitt County Sherriff’s Office, the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their combined investigative work in this case.”

“Mr. Baxley violated the trust of livestock farmers throughout the Southeastern United Sates,” Clint Bush, resident agent in charge for the United States Secret Service’s Albany Resident Office, said. “Mr. Baxley knowingly brokered livestock transactions without having any intentions of paying the farmers for their cattle. The actions by Mr. Baxley caused emotional and financial hardships to the innocent livestock farmers that cannot be repaired.

“The United States Secret Service, along with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate, arrest and support the successful prosecution of the criminals who choose to commit this and other types of fraud in our community and around the nation.”

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office and the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service Fair Trade Practices Program, Packers and Stockyards Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McCullers is prosecuting the case for the government.

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