Ex-pork buyer dies in Iowa crash following fraud indictment


By Ryan J. Foley, The Associated Press

via The Seattle Times - Nov. 16, 2021


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former manager for an influential Iowa-based pork dealer has died in a crash, days after federal prosecutors charged him in a scheme to swindle hog farmers through fraudulent buying practices.


Steven Demaray, 70, the former regional buying manager for Lynch Livestock, was driving a truck that crashed head-on Monday morning into a concrete overpass support pier on Highway 63 near New Hampton, where he lived, according to the Iowa State Patrol.


Demaray, who was known by his nickname “Shooter,” was the only person in the vehicle and died at a hospital. An accident report released Tuesday gave no indication why the truck left the road and entered the median before the crash, but said the conditions were dry.


As part of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cedar Rapids, a federal grand jury on Nov. 4 indicted Demaray and former Lynch Livestock bookkeeper Billie Joe Wickham on two counts of mail fraud.


Demaray pleaded not guilty during his initial court appearance Nov. 10 and was free on bond.


Lynch Livestock, a licensed livestock dealer, operates buying stations in Iowa and several other states where hog farmers and producers sell their animals. The company, which is owned by major Republican donor and philanthropist Gary Lynch, then supplies hogs to processing plants for major pork brands around the country…


… When Demaray would get a fax from a buying station manager detailing a purchase, he would arbitrarily lower the weights and quality classifications of the animals, reducing their cost by thousands of dollars, the indictment alleged. Wickham would then allegedly use a manual scale at the headquarters to create fraudulent scale tickets with the lower weights and classifications. Lynch Livestock would then pay the farmers far less than what the company really owed.


Demaray and Wickham made “false and misleading statements” to regulators with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conceal the fraud and to assure livestock sellers their practices were fair, while destroying documents with the real weights, the indictment says.


In October 2017, the USDA fined Lynch Livestock…