- Associated Press - Saturday, July 4, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - It may no longer be the wild frontier it once was, but the region encompassing eastern Nebraska and western Iowa still sees the occasional cattle thief.

Officials in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa are prosecuting three Omaha residents they suspect of cattle rustling, The Omaha World-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1CRRRyM ) Saturday.

Ervin John Jacob, 57, James Michael Brunzo, 49, and Amy Louise Springer, 42, are accused of slipping into feedlots at night and hauling off steers and cows to sell at sale barns and livestock auctions.

The three are charged with cattle thefts in Cass County, Iowa, and Cuming County, Nebraska. Jacob and Springer also face charges in Nebraska’s York County.

Jacob and Springer have already pleaded guilty in some of the cases. Springer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft by unlawful taking in May in Cuming County, receiving a 90-day jail sentence. In Cass County, she was given two years’ probation on a felony theft charge in an agreement with prosecutors. She still faces felony theft and burglary charges in York County.



Jacob pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge in Cass County and received probation in an agreement with prosecutors. He faces felony charges of theft and burglary in York County, with a court appearance scheduled for later this month. He pleaded not guilty Thursday to three felony theft counts in Cuming County and is set to go to trial in October.

Brunzo is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking in Cuming County. A warrant also has been issued for his arrest in Cass County.

Phone numbers could not be found Saturday for Jacob and Springer. Brunzo is in federal custody after pleading guilty in a drug case in January and could not be reached for comment.

While the three face charges of old-fashioned cattle rustling, it was modern technology that helped nab them, officials said. After several thefts at various feedlots, one Wisner operator installed surveillance cameras and captured images of the suspects in a Dec. 27 theft, leading to their arrests, prosecutors said.

Cass County, Iowa, Sheriff Darby McLaren said it’s unusual to hear of cattle rustling in the 21st century.

“My guess is it’s happened three or four times in 20 years,” McLaren said. “But some of them might have been farmers miscounting cows.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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