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EX-FARM MANAGER CHARGED IN CATTLE THEFT

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The state's former prison farm manager has been charged with stealing cattle he bought for the Corrections Department.

A Canyon County grand jury indictment accuses Millard Bright of Nampa of three counts of theft by unauthorized control.According to the indictment, the livestock were taken last year from the Southern Idaho Correctional Institution near Boise.

He is accused of stealing a black Angus bull destined for the prison slaughterhouse that was valued at $469, as well as two Holstein heifers intended for the prison dairy and costing a total of $600.

Bright was fired in July after state investigators found a bull bearing prison identification tags roaming his rented pasture. Bright surrendered to authorities Friday after learning of the sealed indictment.

Bright pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to stand trial March 14 before 3rd District Judge Gerald Weston.

Bright is accused of selling the heifers July 11, 1988 at the Treasure Valley Livestock Auction Yard in Caldwell. Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Brad Goodsell said he intends to prove that the proceeds from the sale went into Bright's personal bank account.

The bull is believed to have been used for breeding, although it was supposed to have been slaughtered for feeding the inmates. Brand inspectors seized five more heifers a few weeks ago after Bright was unable to prove ownership.

Meanwhile, the Ada County Sheriff's Department and state Department of Law Enforcement are investigating the possibility that other thefts occurred, disguised as legitimate prison purchases.

"There are other agencies investigating angles other than livestock," said John Howard, Caldwell district supervisor for the state brand office.

If convicted on all three counts, Bright could serve 42 years in prison and face a $15,000 fine.

Within days of the bull's discovery, Corrections Director Richard Vernon fired Bright, who for six years had supervised the prison farm.