Rock Rapids Man Could Face 20 Years In Federal Prison After Pleading Guilty To Defrauding Hog Farmers

Cedar Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Rapids man who defrauded pork producers while working as the regional manager of an Iowa livestock dealer pled guilty on December 1, 2023 in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

According to the US Attorney’s Office, 52-year-old Robert Harry Bickerstaff of Rock Rapids was convicted of one count of wire fraud.

The US Attorney’s office says that at the plea hearing and in his plea agreement, Bickerstaff admitted that he had worked as a regional manager for an Iowa livestock dealer between 2018 and 2021. As regional manager, Bickerstaff oversaw livestock buying stations in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. From time to time, Bickerstaff also personally counted, classified, and weighed swine at these stations.

They tell us Bickerstaff admitted he participated in a scheme to defraud livestock producers personally and by directing others to falsely and fraudulently lower the weights and reduce the numbers and classifications of swine that producers and sellers had delivered to the dealer at its buying stations; manipulate the weights of swine either manually or using a crowbar, paddle, or other similar object, and thus defeat the electronic scales on which livestock producers’ swine was weighed at his buying stations; and create fraudulent “sort sheets” and scale tickets containing false numbers, classifications, and weights of producers’ swine for transmission to the dealer’s headquarters in Waucoma, Iowa. Finally, concerned about a potential investigation into his conduct in early 2021, Bickerstaff instructed others to destroy anything with his name on it.

In addition to working for the livestock dealer, Bickerstaff was a pork producer himself. The US Attorney’s office says that in February 2022, Bickerstaff won a “Hog Wild” award from a statewide pork producers’ association for his role in promoting pork in Lyon County.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Bickerstaff remains free on bond previously set pending sentencing. Bickerstaff faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.


Local News