Saturday, June 7, 2014

Wagner, after heart attack and bypass surgery, fights back with a win in Appeals Court

Gerald Trumbule

I received this email from Vern Wagner's wife, Veyon, on May 9:

 Vern is doing well and will be removed from the ICU sometime today and taken down to the lower floor.  They took a couple of tubes out this morning.  He is at the Veteran's Hospital in Denver recovering from a Triple by-pass surgery on the 6th for the information to you who I have not yet contacted.
       BUT, the great news is Amanda Hunter called today, (She and Dan Zettler were Vern's criminal attorneys in the cattle abuse criminal case.)  She stated the Court of Appeals came back that Vern is not guilty of anything. So he is completely acquitted.  This came at a great time as today is his birthday.
       Love you all, take care.   Veyon Wagner 
The VA hospital is just a mile from where I live so I called and went to see Vern the next day.
He showed us the new zipper he had had installed on his chest to accommodate the triple-bypass heart surgery. He seemed in good spirits and was very pleased that the court had ruled, once again, in his favor. Now that he was completely stripped of his ranch, leases, and cattle, he had won in the courts once again.
If you are not familiar with what I call "The Saga of Vern Wagner", please search on this blog for all of the gruesome details of how Park County destroyed Wagner because his legal grazing association plan was costing them over $1 million a year.
Here's the story in the Wagner's own words:

Wagner during trial while he is being vilified with false testimony.
       In early 2000 I leased two properties in Park County, Colorado which were drastically misrepresented by parties claiming to own or control a total of 90,000 acres.  Upon finding out these parties only owned or controlled a small fraction of what they claimed.  I formed two separate grazing associations to provide feed for the livestock I had moved here from Meeker, Colorado; believing these parties actually controlled what they claimed. (I moved the whole family, my wife of 55 years, my son and daughter-in-law and 5 grandchildren, 3 grand sons 21-31 years old, 2 granddaughters 17-19 yrs. old.)  
       I also leased Thousand Peaks Grazing Association and later on Tomahawk and the Salt Works Ranch which totaled 130,000 acres. While most of the 8,000 land owners were happy that I could qualify them for Ag. Taxes and maintain good management of their land there was another group who resented cattle grazing.  There were also people who had simply grazing for nothing with no benefit to the land owners whatsoever and with a disregard for the welfare of the land.

       Animal Control , which consisted of people very inexperienced with little to no training concerning livestock health or condition, solicited complaints from the land owners or residents who preferred no livestock and from others whom had used the land for nothing and resented my formation of grazing associations and especially the parties who had fraudulently leased me areas.  All of these people got together  with assistance of the County Commissioners and Tax Assessor and formed an ordinance titled "Illegal Trespass Grazing Ordinance 03-01." This was practiced for 3-4 years and I received 80 citations for trespass while I was able through my attorney to prove this ordinance was not legal and was in defiance of the Colorado Fence Law established 150 years ago.  This was a very wicked action which called trespass cattle that wandered on unfenced property a criminal offense with stiff fines and jail time.  This was promoted by the County Attorney who later became a Judge in charge of all the decisions made.
       In 2008, I was put in jail for 5 days without a Hearing on false claims of trespass.  I was advised to turn myself in or be arrested.  I turned myself in. After I was released I read a report of the Judge which stated there was a trial (2) that I pled guilty (3) that I failed to turn myself in.  All of which was absolutely false.  I appealed this case and the Court of Appeals found unanimously in my favor and this Judge had violated my Constitutional Rights 10 times. 
        However before this Appeals decision came down the Spring of 2010 occurred which was officially the coldest and wettest March since 1964 where records started to be recorded.  Some cattle were lost on my range as was the case with every one who ranched in this area.  The Animal Control and the Animal Protection of Colorado, represented by the Ag. Department through the Commissioner of Agriculture of Colorado brought charges against me; the cattle lessors; the partner on the land and cattle.  The Commissioner of Agriculture was represented by the State Attorney's Office.  He Plea Bargained with both the cattle lessors and the partner on the land and they were not charged (immuned) apparently for their cooperation in prosecuting me.  Anyway, they were not only immuned but would receive all the property.  There was a Court Order awarded the Colo. Ag. Dept. to seize all cattle owned or controlled by me without a Hearing on May 11, 2010.  A Hearing was set for May 18-21, 2010, four afternoons.  The opposing parties received three of these four afternoons and part of the fourth which only a short time for us to put on our case and was disallowed any Rebuttal time.  370 adult cattle plus 82 new born calves were rounded up, hauled to Salida cattle Auction prior to the May 14-18 Hearing.  These cattle were rounded up for the Colo Ag. Dept by a person associated with the partner on the land and cattle.  In fact this partner had promoted this entire seizure through his local attorney and this person who rounded up the cattle.  Animal Control admitted they had searched every acre of ground I controlled and any land adjacent to the 130,000 acres I controlled.
       The results of this seizure was the cattle were rounded up at the beginning of calving, hauled to a Sales Barn with crowded conditions, fed poor quality hay; lost weight and sold for approximately one/half what they would have brought the following Fall.
       At the end of this four afternoon Hearing this Judge allowed or ordered the sale of these cattle but said he was concerned not to violate my Constitutional rights from lack of due process but that is exactly what he had done.  He said he was concerned the people obligated for feed and operating expenses had not performed.  He stated the grass was greening up and the remaining cattle were not in danger and the Wagner Family could retain the remaining cattle.  This was true.  It was also true the cattle seized were not in danger. 
       Then State Representative Wes McKinley was instrumental in establishing any seizure of cattle had to be approved by two veterinarians.  A good recommendation.  The way the State Animal Protection Act got around this was they hired to DVM whom stated there was no grass, no strength in green grass in May; they were lousey; had retained after births, etc.  all of which was not true. The Judge officially granted no prosecution to both the cattle lessors and the partner on the land even though he realized they had not done their part, in fact the partner on the land had not done anything he was obligated to do since 2007-2008.  In fact the attorney for the immuned cattle lesssors and the other attorneys for the partner on the land all united in putting the Wagner's out without anything.  While the parties who put no money or effort received everything.  
       The next move was that a five day Hearing occurred in December of 2011 where the results was even though the Wagner Family had promoted the value of the cowherd by $500,000 with the loss of 2 cows in 18 months the Judge found me to be an unfit operator and gave a $40,000 budget to a Receiving Company to round up all cattle and sell them (something I could have done in one day with one helper and loaded by noon the next day.)  They took five days.
       Upon being declared an "unfit Operator" the Judge declared I or anyone connected with me could never own or manage a cow in Park County.  The State Attorney General cancelled my State and BLM Leases, even though the local authorities had re-leased these permits for 10 more years.  The next move was to determine who got the money from cattle sales of over $1,000,000.  The decision was after the Ag. Dept.; Animal Control; Sheriff's Dept. took a cut off the top the remaining $900,000 went to the cattle lessors plus a $600,000 Judgment.  
       The next move: who gets the land? Even though this partner had not lived up to either his written obligations or verbal promises the Judge awarded him all the land, plus a judgment for approximately $600,000.  All of the decisions were made by a Judge who should have recused himself as he was biased and vindictive in his actions against me.  The results of all this was outrageous and an abuse of power by Government entities at the tax payers expense.  This whole situation was to force me out of business.  They did. 
        Then when I did not take Bankruptcy as they anticipated I would, the Commissioner of Agriculture wrote to the DA urging him to file charges for negligence and cruelty to cattle.  I went through a two week jury trial whereby the prosecution wanted to imprison me for 20 years and six months.  I had to have a Court Appointed Attorney who rightfully demanded and obtained a Jury Trial.  The results were the jury did not find me guilty of negligence or abuse but on the perjured testimony of one Animal Control officer who claimed she told me to feed a certain cow and she found the cow dead.  Number one, she didn't tell me to feed the cow.  She did find the cow dead but the cow did not die from negligence or lack of feed but died in good shape by drowning in a pond.  The sentence was 80 hours of Community Service and $345.00 Court Costs.  I did this.
       This was one cow out of 1883 head of cattle. This part of the Jury decision went to Appeal Court and at this time I have been vindicated of any wrong doing which defies any of this Travesty having any justification for occurring.
       BUT, the results to the Wagner Family is they were deprived of 130,000 acres of land we controlled; 1883 head of cattle either owned or leased; deeded ground with water right; and the ability to produce 1,000 to 1,500 head of calves a year for many years.   The quality of calves we produced would have averaged, at today's prices, $1,000 per head now and for the last three years.This constitutes an annual loss of at least $1,000,000.
       Had the Government entities not made this unwarranted seizure we would have still been in business.
       (1) In regard to being an unfit operator; that could not be farther from the truth.  With 130,000 acres of range, I know of no other person in the ranching business that had feed and acreage per cow unit equal to that, I have been in business all my life and anyone who knows me knows I work hard and long hours.  People from 9 States and one foreign country have testified in my behalf and wrote letters in my support.  In fact the community does not support this action as exemplified by the support I received during these trials.
       (2)  The facts are a Judge who obtained the power to make these calls should never have been granted this power.  He found every prefabricated story and claim to be credible and the credible truth to be incredible.  He was predestined to destroy me long before any loss of cattle was involved when he sent me to jail without a reason or Hearing.  When the decision from the cattle sales was made the lessor's attorneys argued I was proven to be unfit therefore I couldn't and shouldn't run cattle.  I was a bad opertor and had harmed them and they should have all the money.  They got all of it.  Was it not promised to them at the beginning?
       (3) The same thing happened on the deeded ground with water rights.  While this partner failed to comply with his numerous obligations both written and verbal and abandoned the operation in 2008, his attorney's stressed I was an unfit operator and that I couldn't run cattle owned or leased; therefore the land was of no use to me or my family.  In other words by this unwarranted taking of all my property and income from all production since 2010 included and declaring me unfit I have been a "sitting duck" for the partner to obtain my property and everyone in the ranching business in Park County has had a shot at obtaining a chunk of the 130,000 acres and the adjacent land owners whom they sent me to jail for the purpose of discouraging me to operate in that area now have 100,000 acres of the 130,000 at no expense to them.  The remaining 30,000 has become available and gathered up by others.
       This is organized crime with the Government parties mentioned.  They operate on the premises they are protecting animals.  These animals had a great home and not one animal fit the description of warranting being taken into their possession.  The false image of me and my family has been totally prefabricated, humiliating, unjustifiable and devastating and has consequently totally deprived us of all our property and the ability to continue in business at our chosen occupation which have proven very good at. 
       The government whom with tax money and seizure power propitiate their lucrative jobs and their egos have swindled us out of our entire belongings and used the seizure power of our property as a bribe to accomplish their goals.  Then they go into the act of attrition of not allowing us a dime, hoping we can never obtain the proper legal counsel to turn things around. This is organized crime and has been the collusive effort of two attorneys from the State Attorney's office representing the State Department of Agriculture, with the combined efforts of three attorneys representing the cattle lessors and three attorneys representing the partner on the land. While the only justification or power the Ag. Dept. or Animal Protection Act has is for a justifiable seizure on the basis of fear of death of the involved cattle. This is simply and unquestionably not true.  The cattle have gone from paradise to hell while millions of dollars of property has been seized from the entire Wagner Family and we have been left without the ability to defend ourselves to correct this Travesty.     
       I have heard this travesty referred to as a land mark case.  If the Government through the entities above are allowed to prevail it is going to enable them to put any one out of business at their discretion. In this case they had a Judge to do exactly what they wanted and the Judge can't be sued.
       I am revealing this situation because I would hope there are people, especially the people in agriculture, whom are vulnerable to this kind of action and should be aware of how they collectively operate.
          Vern Wagner, for Cross Slash Ranch and the Wagner Family
           33515 Highway 9
           Fairiplay, Colorado 80440
           Home phone: 719 836 4865
           Cell: 719 838 0338


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