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Cattle barn king arrested for grand theft

The owner or co-owner of 15 cattle sale barns in Long Prairie, Motley, Fergus Falls, and other locations in three states was taken into custody in Fergus Falls June 23 and faces a class three felony theft charge in South Dakota.

Joey J. Varner, 52, of Pierz, Minn., is accused of stealing 188 head of 800-pound heifer cattle reporting missing from the Watertown (S.D.) Livestock Auction on March 3, according to the Todd County (Minn.) Sheriff's Department.

At the time of the theft, the cattle were under the control of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, pending the sale at Watertown Livestock, the TCSO said. Sometime in the early morning hours of March 3, the cattle were taken from a pen on the grounds of the South Dakota sale barn, where Varner is a co-owner.

Bond on the warrant was set at $100,000, which Varner posted, the TCSO said. An initial court appearance has been set for July 14 in Codington County, S.D.