MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 4, 2012

Haskell man guilty of cattle theft

Rustler also pleads guilty in Wagoner County to stealing pickup


— A Haskell man pleaded guilty in Muskogee County District Court to livestock theft charges after stealing cattle from a rancher in September 2011, according to a media release.

Joseph Tanner Harper, 20, was sentenced Friday to two, five-year deferred sentences to run concurrently and ordered to pay more than $5,000 in fines and court costs. Harper was convicted of stealing 18 head of cattle from one rancher and a stock trailer from another.

Harper also pleaded guilty in Wagoner County for stealing a pickup. He was sentenced to a five-year deferred sentence to run concurrently with the other two sentences and ordered to one year in rehab.

The initial arrest was made in September 2011 when then 25-year-old Billy Chris Barnett III, also of Haskell, was charged and convicted with the same cattle theft and theft of the stock trailer and cattle pens that were used in the transport of the stolen cattle.

Barnett was sentenced to six years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and also received a 12-year suspended sentence.

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Association Special Ranger John Cummings said, at the time of the thefts, areas in and around Muskogee, Wagoner and Okmulgee counties were experiencing several cattle and equipment thefts.

“It’s our goal to see these types of investigations brought to successful conclusions so that victims can move forward with their lives,” Cummings said. “Now that both suspects have been charged and sentenced, we expect this to serve as a deterrent for future ag crimes in this area.”