Cattle theft case against rancher bound for Moffat County District Court

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Monty Luke Pilgrim

A Moffat County rancher charged with violating state cattle statutes will be tried in Moffat County District Court.

Monty Luke Pilgrim, 51, of Little Snake River, is charged with 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.

In a preliminary hearing Monday, Moffat County Court Judge Sandra Gardner found probable cause for the theft charge against Pilgrim, the only charge eligible for a preliminary hearing, and bound the case over to district court. He is scheduled for arraignment at 1 p.m. Feb. 29 in district court.

A felony conviction could carry a penalty of probation, community corrections or prison, said Jon Pfeifer, Moffat County chief deputy district attorney, who is prosecuting the case.

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’s unlikely Pilgrim would receive a prison sentence if convicted based on having no criminal history.

If guilty, Pfeifer said Pilgrim may be required to provide restitution to other ranchers for lost revenue in addition to potential criminal penalties.

According to an arrest affidavit filed in September 2011, authorities estimated the value of the stray livestock allegedly in Pilgrim’s possession at $68,000.

Pilgrim turned himself into authorities in late September 2011 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 represented by Steamboat Springs attorney Kristopher Hammond and Ed Nugent, of Grand Junction.

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