Local rancher to be arraigned Tuesday

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Monty Luke Pilgrim

A Moffat County rancher accused of violating state cattle statutes is scheduled to be arraigned in the Moffat County combined courts Tuesday.

Monty Luke Pilgrim, 51, of Little Snake River, is suspected of being in possession of 36 cows belonging to nine area ranchers. His is also accused of misbranding 31 calves as his own.

Formal charges were filed in Moffat County District Court on Tuesday, according to court records.

Judge Sandra Gardner will be presiding over the arraignment, in which Pilgrim will be advised of the charges against him.

The arraignment will take place at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.

Pilgrim faces 12 felony charges including one count of theft exceeding $20,000, a Class 3 felony; nine counts of theft of certain animals, a Class 4 felony; one count of concealing estrays, a Class 6 felony; and one count of wrongful branding, a Class 6 felony.

Moffat County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jon Pfeifer, who is prosecuting the case, said Pilgrim is also going to be advised of the potential fines and criminal penalties he could receive if convicted.

A felony conviction could carry a penalty of probation, community corrections or prison, Pfeifer said. The presumptive prison sentence for a felony conviction in Colorado is four to 12 years for a Class 3 felony, two to six years for a Class 4 felony and 12 to 18 months for a Class 6 felony.

However, Pfeifer said it is unlikely Pilgrim will receive a prison sentence because he has no prior criminal history.

In addition to potential criminal penalties, Pilgrim may also be required to provide financial restitution to the other ranchers for lost revenue if found guilty, Pfeifer said.

According to an arrest affidavit filed last month, authorities estimated the value of the stray cows and calves allegedly in Pilgrim’s possession at $68,000.

Pfeifer said he has not spoken to Pilgrim about the case or a potential plea agreement and is restricted from doing so until after the arraignment.

Pilgrim turned himself into authorities at about 10 a.m. Sept. 26 following a joint investigation by Moffat County Sheriff’s Office deputies and an inspector from the Department of Agriculture’s Brand Inspection Division that resulted in a warrant for his arrest.

Pilgrim is currently not represented by an attorney, according to court records.

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