Letter: In defense of Monty Pilgrim


To the editor:

This letter is written regarding the ranching dispute with Monty Pilgrim as the defendant.

Having grown up with generations of ranching family and currently surrounded by ranching neighbors, I can appreciate the various aspects of this case.

For example, I know that sometimes tacit and imperfect arrangements come into existence over years, for dealing with ongoing issues.

Cows crawl under fences and wander and mingle back and forth both directions between properties.

It seems the arrangement in this situation was that it all balanced out and not to worry about it.

From the news stories, it appears that the first word Monty heard of a neighbor having an issue was from the sheriff.

His first words were something like, "Let's get this taken care of right now."

Everyone agrees (even Monty) that if he owes anyone anything, he needs to pay it.

But here is what I am left wondering: Is that satisfactory for the neighbors, or are they hoping for a windfall? Maybe with restitution and what not, a legitimate amount owed will magically grow by 10 times?

If they will be happy with what (if anything) they are owed, then why bring this mess to court?

Are they actually trying to claim they tried to get any legitimate debt from Monty and he refused?

There is no way that can be true.

I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand this, if this goes to court and if the plaintiffs win, and if there are punitive damages assessed, that punitive money goes to government coffers.

That's right, a neighbor gets hurt and the government gets fed from it.

I'm just wondering if everyone has thought this through.

Out in the rural community, it seems the farther apart your neighbor is, the closer they are.

My rural community is important to me and we watch out for each other.

We, in general, settle issues with good fences and honest talk.

I'm confident that for anything to make it to court, much effort would have first been attempted out of court.

I'm wondering what the end game is here?

The story in Friday's paper did not suggest what that would be. Is the hope that Monty will go to prison and his ranch will be seized and sold for legal fees, restitution, punitive damages, etc.?

Is this a good idea, giving the government training on how to take ranches?

There is a saying that goes, "Everything you take will be taken from you; everything that is yours will return to you."

It seems to me that the best way to solve this is to set down and agree on what, if anything, is owed, and have Monty pay that.

Be done with it, get on with your lives, and get on track with healing and strengthening your community rather than letting it be divided.

Lawyers and bureaucrats will survive without this case.

Be careful with what you take.

Richard Warner

Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.


ruralmom 4 years, 10 months ago

The facts were not presented clearly by Mr. Warner. This is not the first time cattle and calves have gone missing or been 'mistakenly branded' in Northwest Co. This is the first time someone has been caught. Though I have never seen a cow go under a fence, it has always been over, cows do stray and when you have thousands of miles of fence to maintain, it is difficult to keep up. This case is a matter of Monty putting his brand on a calf who's mother did not have his brand on her. He should of mothered up the calf and investigated the parentage. And it was not just one calf it was a bunch, from many neighboring ranches. Think about it, 1. can nine other ranchers be so negligant in maintaining there fences 2. he should of of noticed there mothers as being strays. Most ranchers have multiple ways to identify there animal, ie: permanent brands, ear tags and permanent ear notches. The DA is pursuing this case not the ranchers that lost their animals. Also the Cattlemans Assoc. and the Colorado Brand Board is behind this as well. With the prices of beef those ranchers lost a fortune in current and future income. Monty was not in the process of giving those animals back. With his brand on those calves, he marked them as his own. That is stealing. Those cows could of stayed in his vast herd and given him numberous calves in the furture and no one would be wiser. You cannot claim ignorance 37 times. Nor can you blames others for your actions.


jaxx 4 years, 10 months ago

Good job, ruralmom, think you hit the nail on the head with your comment. Not sure where the division in the community that Mr. Warner refers to is occuring as all of the people I have talked to share the opinion that Mr. Pilgrim is in the wrong. I know that I certainly wouldn't want someone as a neighbor that kept astrayed stock for years and years and years. And if I believe Mr. Warner is wrong if he would let such neighborly behavior continue without contacting the proper authorities in complaint. Neighborly does not mean stupid, Mr. Warner. Just sayin......


Richard Warner 4 years, 10 months ago

Ruralmom, I agree that the branding of calves that a stray cow subsequently had while on Monty's land is indeed a questionable practice. Seems true ownership would depend on a number of factors, such as whether or not it was Monty's bull that impregnated the cow, and whether or not it is the status quo (have other neighbors done the same thing with Monty's cow/calf pairs?). I do not know the answers to those sorts of questions, but suspect that once one dives in and gets the full picture, that things are not as cut and dried.

Suspect you are right when you say this is not the first time this has happened in NW Colorado...suspect there is a tacit "status quo" arrangement amongst some ranchers. As for getting "caught", if it is a status quo...one has to wonder if it is more a case of getting set up? If people allow this to go on, why are they suddenly calling foul?

Is someone seeking retaliation for something else that has nothing to do with these cows? Have been around the block enough to know that that kind of manuever does indeed happen pretty regularly. Not saying it happened here, but I think it is important in the name of justice that prosecutors and jury evaluate the facts and be open to factoring these sorts of machinations into this situation.

Can name several instances in the corporate world I have witnessed along this line, just to clarify what I am saying. For example, have seen an assistant that was signing documents for the convenience of her boss when out of the office. Of course she had the permission of the boss to sign the papers. It was not corporate policy, but it was a corner cut in the name of convenience. However, when the assistant got sideways with the boss, suddenly this became a horrible crazy act of forgery! The assistant got fired. What hokum. Like that; it happens. Not so quick to buy into this victim story, that's all.

Ruralmom, when you say that the DA is pursuing the case, that is misleading. This all had to start with a criminal complaint filed by one or more of the alleged victims through the Sheriff's office. That is how it is done in a case alleging stolen property. No complaint, no case.

For there to be nine victims, it seems to me that they must all be the plaintiffs in this criminal suit. To date, these nine have remained oddly anonymous (as with the [other] commenters here...at least I signed my name to the LTE). Why is it that their names must be kept secret or are deemed irrelevant to the story? I do not believe their names are protected in this type of case. Journalists should include them in their stories.


Richard Warner 4 years, 10 months ago

If this alleged crime is as they say, if they are saying the whole truth, and if this situation is one that warrants the potential destruction of their neighbor...their names should be publicly disclosed and their stories should be able to hold up under scrutiny.

Jaxx, if we want to discuss intelligence, I have to say that I just don't think Monty is dumb enough to be doing what is claimed against these nine people in broad daylight...that is what suggests to me that some sort of tacit status quo arrangement is going on. Would like to find out if any of these nine have ever taken ownership of any of Monty's strays. Dunno if they have, but seems a question worth investigating.

Jaxx and Ruralmom, no one has answered what happens to this case if it is resolved out of court? Or why this was not first attempted by these nine anonymous alleged victims? Sit down, figure out what if anything is owed...and pay that.


Save the taxpayer some money, get what if anything you are owed (sorry, no windfall), and be done with it.


WrestlinRockies 4 years, 10 months ago

How does a farmer count a herd of cows...? With a Cowculator


jaxx 4 years, 10 months ago

The original CDP article reported this whole case started when a local rancher saw one of his cows on Mr. Pilgrim's land and reported it to the local authorities (sheriff and brand inspectors). I'm sure that the remaining "victims"had no idea before the investigation was underway. Any charges filed against Mr. Pilgrim come from the county and state not the victims. I believe we may see some of your questions answered in this trial. Mr. Pilgrim will certainly get his day in court. Seems to me that the number of animals invoved and elapsed time between their disappearence are probably reasons that this case is so serious. I don't think its terribly odd that most of the victims are anonymous as I think thats pretty standard in theft trials. I think it is irrelevant who the victims are...... that doesn't change the facts in the case. I eagerly await this trial.


Richard Warner 4 years, 8 months ago

Well sounds like the jury is in on this case, no idea if there will be years of appeals and what-not. The personal business of the nine plaintiffs was made a matter of public record. Everyone can appreciate the anger of the plaintiffs over the perceived crime but again, were the party refusing to make things right, this case would make more sense. When one goes to court, much of the time you have already lost...the question is more one of who loses less.

Yes, a lot of my questions did get answered in the case, though I was not able to attend the whole trial, and not all answers were in support of Monty but some were. As I understand it there was conviction on 15 out of 27 counts, for five of the nine plaintiffs. I am watching to see the full story on restitution amounts, punitives, etc. My googling suggests punitives can generally go to the plaintiffs. Presumably since five of nine were involved, the original $68k claimed theft would be diminished appropriately too. Will the presumable restitution be something like $42k-$50k or will it plus punitives be hundreds of thousands or even millions (windfall)?

Thanks to ruralmom and others for your insights. May the community be able to heal


ruralmom 4 years, 8 months ago

Well the verdict is back and though somewhat confusing since Monty was only guilty for five of the nine plaintiffs. Not sure how that happened. He branded all the calves that came from the nine plaintiffs, didn't he? Well just the same he was acutally tried and will be sentenced next month. I do hope the punishment fits the crime. Since some of those cows had been gone for years and presumably he branded all the cows offspring for those five years, that is some money in todays market!!! As a wife of a cattle rancher, I know the effects of a loss of a few calves per year. Congradulations Brad, you are a good honest man that did not deserve the treatment you received. I cannot believe Monty claimed being framed by a feuding neighbor! Seriously! who would have the time to put that much effort into that? Again, as a rancher wife there is not enough time in one day to do the work you HAVE to do, let alone try to set up your neighbor for cattle rustling. Monty, it takes a bigger man to admit you were wrong, than taking honest hard working folks to court, and take some responsibility for your own actions.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.