RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota feedlot operator who pleaded guilty to operating a Ponzi cattle scheme has been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison.
Prosecutors said Robert Blom, of Corsica, resold the same cattle to multiple investors and made a profit of about $24 million from 2014 to 2019. He resold cattle he didn't have, falsified invoices and used the money to pay back prior investors.
Blom was sentenced to 91 months in prison Thursday on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. As part of a plea bargain, 30 other counts were dropped.
Judge Karen Schreier told Blom that she grew up on a farm and her father had to sell it during the 1980’s farm crisis, but he never tried to find a dishonest way to hang on to it.
She also said that Blom should have known what he was doing was wrong, after facing charges in 1997 for getting a bank loan after lying about cattle he didn’t own. He received probation at the time.
Mike VandenHoek lost $380,000 in the fraud scheme. VandenHoek told KELO-TV that Blom's apology in court was meaningless.
“It’s sad. It’s a show It’s been a show since day one. When he can sit across from you and look you in eye and lie and steal from you; that show in court, just a show,” he said.
Blom asked the judge for mercy. His defense attorney painted a picture of a stressed-out farmer who was only trying to save his family farm.