|Glad Now I Didn't Kill The Skunk|
- Thursday, December 13 2007, 20:27:51 (CET)|
from 184.108.40.206 - mail.shpl.org Non-Profit Organizations - Linux - Mozilla
...but I came awfully close. Some may fault me for running him and his horse over with my truck instead of facing him down "manfully"..but it was his own fault. He used to brag about how no one could catch him if only he had a "hoss" and the open range "afore him". I ran him down with 350 horses...he won't make that boast again.
Opinions still divided about Chance Reynolds
By Steve Miller, Journal Staff Writer Thursday, March 02, 2006
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Opinions continue to be divided, both in South Dakota and Mexico, about John "Chance" Reynolds, as U.S. marshals prepare to take the former Edgemont area rancher back to Colorado to face a federal escape charge and finish the remainder of his sentence for bank fraud.
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Some people who know Reynolds believe he got a raw deal, saying he simply failed to make his organic-ranching dream a reality.
Others portray him as a schemer whose actions warranted his conviction on fraud charges.
Reynolds was sentenced in January 1998 to seven years in federal prison for bilking West River area banks, businesses and ranchers of several million dollars.
He escaped from a federal minimum security prison at Florence, Colo., on March 14, 1999, after serving about eight months of his sentence.
Authorities tracked Reynolds to various countries in Central America but were unable to catch up with him until Feb. 17, when Mexican immigration officials arrested him near Ajijic, where he and his wife had been living. He was deported to the United States.
At a court hearing last Friday in Los Angeles, Reynolds, now 53, was ordered removed to Colorado, according to David Floyd, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal at Denver.
Floyd said he expects Reynolds to be returned to Colorado sometime this month to face the escape charge filed in 1999. If convicted, Reynolds could be sentenced to five years in prison. He also has the remainder of his seven-year prison term to serve, Floyd said.
Reynolds, going under the name "Sam" Reynolds, and his wife, Neteri, using the name "Celina," had been operating a horse-training, boarding and trail-riding business in Ajijic, near Guadalajara in central Mexico, according to the Guadalajara Reporter, an English-language newspaper serving the American retirement community there.
Since their arrival in Ajijic in late 2004, the Reynolds couple had made friends, some of whom spoke well of them. Others were suspicious of "Sam" Reynolds and said the couple had financial problems.
Ken Deal, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the District of Colorado, is unsympathetic to the Reynolds' financial difficulties.
"During their time on the run, he was doing the usual: taking people for money, garnering their trust, property, cash," Deal told the Guadalajara newspaper. "We have had people say that he is a bit unstable and erratic. And victims of fraud rarely come forward."
Nancy Traill, a Canadian retiree living in the Ajijic area, also holds a dim view of Reynolds. Traill said she paid for "Celina" to train a horse. After a few days, the horse needed veterinary care, so Traill took the animal to a well-known local veterinarian. "Sam" Reynolds then refused to take the horse back and fulfill his responsibilities unless he was paid more money, Traill said.
Traill said she and other horse enthusiasts in the Ajijic area questioned Reynolds' claimed abilities in treating horses for medical problems.
Contrary to some reports, Traill said, Reynolds is not widely liked in the Ajijic area.
Tom Barsanti, an American who became friends with Reynolds and spoke in his defense, is an inexperienced horseman and unable to properly judge Reynolds' abilities, Traill said.
Barsanti, in an interview with staff writer Alex Gesheva of the Guadalajara Reporter, said he believes Reynolds was treated unfairly by the U.S. justice system.
Reynolds pleaded guilty in 1997 to two counts of making false statements to financial institutions and one count of illegal money transactions after he borrowed more than $17 million from banks and area businesses to finance an expansion of his Beaver Creek Ranch northwest of Edgemont. Reynolds eventually acquired about 67,000 acres stretching from near Newcastle, Wyo., to south of Hot Springs.
Farm Credit Services of America initially lost $6.2 million that was not repaid, but bank officials said last month that after subsequent efforts, the net loss was reduced to about $2 million.
Reynolds and his family also made a good first impression in Edgemont, according to Mark Tubbs, whose ranch is three miles away from the Reynolds place. "He had all the people in Edgemont convinced he was great," Tubbs said. "He was big in church."
But Tubbs said local ranchers saw red flags in the way Reynolds operated and in the couple's extravagant spending.
"He came to this area and didn't have nothing. All of a sudden, the banks couldn't give him enough money. He'd buy these ranches and turn right around and sell the cattle off them."
But Tubbs doesn't believe Reynolds left owing money to many people in Edgemont. "These people here got their money before he took off, as far as I know."
Verna Barker, co-owner of Ranchers Feed & Supply in Edgemont, said she liked Reynolds. "We got into a tangle a time or two, but we ended up agreeing."
Barker said Reynolds was generous with donations to community activities, such as buying uniforms for sports teams. "Some of the school teachers went on a trip, and he gave them a credit card to use," Barker said.
Barker said she believes Reynolds' believed he could make the organic-beef enterprise work. "I think his intentions were good," she said. "I've heard a lot of comments in town that they wish he hadn't caught him."
Barker said that when Reynolds initially moved to the Edgemont area, she wouldn't let him charge feed and supplies. Later, she allowed him to extend his credit a little more.
Reynolds did a lot of business at her store, Barker said. "We sold him one or two semi loads of range cake a week."
Barker said Reynolds paid most of his bill at her store before his venture failed and the banks and federal investigators closed in.
Barker, too, believes Reynolds paid most of the debts he owed locally.
Rapid Valley Equipment wasn't so lucky. Co-owner Bob Heenan said Reynolds bought a tractor and loader and financed it with the Rapid Valley business. "Then, he came back and traded it in on another tractor and loader and a grain drill," Heenan said. However, Reynolds neglected to tell them that before trading in the tractor, he had mortgaged it with a bank in Newcastle, Wyo.
Heenan said the second tractor and loader and grain drill were confiscated by authorities and auctioned to help pay Reynolds' bank loans. Rapid Valley Equipment lost the newer tractor and had to pay the $15,000 mortgage in Newcastle on the older tractor.
"He knew how to work the system," Heenan said. "He was good at it."
Heenan said Reynolds was a smooth talker. "He didn't have any trouble walking into finance offices and walking out with a lot of money," Heenan said. "It's always the big shots, the big-time operators that stick somebody," he said.
Heenan said he wasn't particularly happy that Reynolds was finally apprehended in Mexico. "It's not going to make any difference. It's just going to cost more money."
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