A failed land sale, colorful exchanges with livestock investigators and a cashed check stub led to the arrest of a Baker man in the theft and sale of two calves.
Travis Ledee, 34, of 10338 Welcome Hites Drive, Baker, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on two counts of livestock theft. Ledee was arrested by the Livestock Brand Commission, a branch of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry that is responsible for investigating agricultural crime in the state, including livestock theft.
According to the arrest affidavit, Ledee sold the calves on Aug. 20 to a livestock yard in Baton Rouge, taking them from property in Central that his girlfriend was renting. The girlfriend, who had planned to buy the property, had agreed to keep the calves on the land until the sale cleared.
When the sale agreement fell through in early December, the property's owner evicted Ledee’s girlfriend, the report said.
The owner, who had last seen the property during the summer when “everything looked good,” returned in December and found that his two calves, a hay ring, a chicken coop and 16 fence panels were missing. The owner lodged a complaint Dec. 31 with the Brand Commission about the missing calves, valued at $1,000. Ledee was arrested Thursday.
State investigators had called Ledee's girlfriend asking where the missing livestock was and she responded that “they ate the calves,” the report said.
Ledee then had several colorful exchanges over the phone with investigators. In a final exchange, Ledee admitted to selling the calves “near the old bridge," according to the report.
Investigators then confirmed Ledee sold the cattle by obtaining a copy of the check he cashed from the livestock yard; he had sold the calves for $411.69, less than half of their estimated value.
Agriculture department spokesperson Veronica Mosgrove said the two calves were too young to have either branding marks or ear tags. But brand inspectors are on hand when livestock are sold, taking written notes describing the animals, including any distinguishing marks, she said.
The log of the brand inspector allowed investigators to identify Ledee as the potential thief. The description in the log matched up with calves’ owner own detailed descriptions of the cattle from his original purchase, Mosgrove said.
The calves’ owner was not able to recover the stolen cattle, she said.
Hundreds of livestock thefts occur around the state each year, Mosgrove said.
The press release from the state agency listed a Baker address for Ledee though his arrest warrant listed a previous Baton Rouge address.