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[March 08, 2013]
Probation ordered for fraud in cattle purchase
Mar 08, 2013 (The Leader-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An Athens man will spend one year on probation for buying 34 head of cattle from a town of Pleasant Valley couple without ever having enough money to pay for them.
Luke L. Kottke, 28, pleaded guilty Thursday in Eau Claire County Court to an amended misdemeanor count of theft by fraud.
Judge William Gabler gave Kottke the option of spending five days in jail or performing 40 hours of community service.
Kottke has already paid restitution totaling $18,800.
As a condition of probation, Kottke cannot have contact with the victims.
According to the criminal complaint: David and Janice Knudson said Kottke came to their farm Dec. 26, 2011, to look at cattle they were selling. Kottke and the Knudsons agreed on an $18,800 sale price for 34 head of cattle.
Kottke returned the next day with a check. Kottke assured David Knudson, 80, the check was good, and they shook hands. Kottke then left with the cattle.
Kottke called the Knudsons Dec. 28, 2011, to ask them to hold the check for a week. Kottke said he couldn't send out the cattle because his truck was stranded.
Janice Knudson agreed to wait until Jan. 4, 2012, to cash the check.
The bank the check was drawn from informed the Knudsons on Jan. 4, 5 and 6, 2012, there were insufficient funds in Kottke's account to cash the check.
After several unsuccessful attempts to contact Kottke, the Knudsons received a phone message from Kottke saying two of the calves died and four more were sick. Kottke said he would send a $16,000 check the next day.
The Knudsons couldn't reach Kottke and contacted the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department.
A detective tried reaching Kottke by phone from Jan. 9 through 11, 2012. Kottke left a voice mail with the detective Jan. 11, 2012, saying several cattle had died and that he would send the Knudsons a check for $10,000.
The detective checked with Kottke's bank and learned Kottke never had more than $3,000 in his account from Dec. 22, 2011, to Jan. 13, 2012.
Holtz can be reached at 715-833-9207, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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