Fort Worth, Texas - After an eight-month investigation, a cattle theft case in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, is finally closed after a rodeo bullfighter pled guilty to felony embezzlement of cattle.
On June 16, Michael Eugene Matt, 36, of Blanco, Texas, was sentenced to a five-year deferred sentence, including supervised probation and was ordered to pay nearly $15,000 in restitution after assisting in the theft of 300 head of cattle worth approximately $244,000 from a California couple who owned a ranch in Oklahoma.
Matt is a four-time world champion Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Professional Bull Riders (PBR) bullfighter and rodeo performer.
Traven Wayne Clifft, 22, of McAlester, Oklahoma, was hired by the couple in 2005 to manage the Oklahoma ranch. Investigations revealed that Clifft sold the cattle at area cattle auctions and deposited the money into his and Matt's personal checking accounts. Clifft pled guilty in February to three counts of felony embezzlement of cattle and was sentenced to five years deferred sentence with supervised probation and more than $130,000 in restitution.
The sentences follow an eight month investigation led by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger John Cummings.
"I would like to thank Doy Sennett of the Pittsburgh County Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Mike Hicks with the Texas Department of Public Safety, TSCRA Special Ranger Max Hartmann and the Pittsburgh County District Attorney's office for all their hard work on this case," Cummings said. "I am proud to be part of the team effort that brought this case to a successful conclusion and in working toward the ultimate goal of obtaining restitution for the hard working ranchers in our state."
TSCRA has 29 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 132-year-old trade organization and is the largest livestock association in Texas. TSCRA has more than 15,000 members who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 51.5 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. TSCRA provides law enforcement services, livestock inspection, legislative and regulatory advocacy and educational opportunities for its members and the industry.