Man charged in pig deaths pleads to bank fraud |  Crime and Courts

Man charged in pig deaths pleads to bank fraud | Crime and Courts

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CEDAR FALLS — A Cedar Falls man accused of allowing hundreds of pigs to starve to death in December has pleaded to fraud charges.

Nolan Otto DeWall, 38, pleaded to one count of bank fraud in US District Court in Cedar Rapids on June 7.

Sentencing will be at a later date.

DeWall was a general manager of an agricultural cooperative and part owner of a trucking company, and in 2018 he allegedly embarked on check-kiting scheme between the business’ bank accounts to falsely inflate the value of the accounts in order to cover checks and delay their financial obligations, according to court records.

He was indicted in March 2022 following lawsuits and a bankruptcy filing in the resulting aftermath.

In addition to the trucking company and coop, DeWall ran a farm located on South Butler Road in rural Cedar Falls.







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Photo from court records shows pigs at a South Butler Road confinement piled onto a feeder to escape the cold concrete floor in December 2021.


Contributed photo


The DeWall farm included livestock feeding and row crops with two new hog confinement buildings with a total capacity of 2,500 pigs financed by Farmers State Bank. The farm ran into problems with low commodity prices and high operating costs with the crops. A storm destroyed the cattle-feeding building, and a hog producer didn’t pay the full amount of their feeding contract, according to bankruptcy filings.

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In addition, disease problems for sows meant the farm wasn’t able to find enough hogs fill its confinement buildings for feeding contracts, and Farmers State Bank filed for foreclosure, sparking the bankruptcy in July 2021.

Meanwhile, former business associates of DeWall allege he mislead GNB Bank of Grundy Center about the financial condition of the cooperative – Voorhies Grain Inc. – in an effort to secure $8.5 million in financing for the operation, according to a court action brought by Harold and Julie Sorensen, who personally guaranteed the promissory notes.

DeWall allegedly came up with counterfeit grain receipts and overstated the value of soybeans held by Voorhies, the Sorensens allege. This included using soybeans to top off bins of corn to make it appear that the bins were filled exclusively with the more expensive soybeans, short records allege. This mixture resulted in further damage from spoilage, according to court records.

GNB ultimately filed a fraud claim with its insurance carrier, leaving the Sorensens with a $2 million debt to the bank, court records state.

DeWall is challenging the Sorensens’ allegations. In court records, his attorney denied DeWall prepared false grain receipts or presented false information.

As to allegations of mixing the grains, an operator error in the elevator system inadvertently dropped soybeans on top of corn, his attorneys said in court records.

Cedar Falls man arrested after 800 pigs die from neglect

While the bankruptcy began to brew, the farm entered an agreement in December 2021 to take on 2,500 young pigs for another person to get them up to sale weight of 280 pounds.

The owner paid to have 15 tons of feed delivered to the farm, and the services of a swine consultant were provided.

When the consultant called to check on the pigs on Dec. 30 – after only eight days – DeWall first said he was at a funeral and then called back to say there was a problem and some of the livestock had suffocated, according to court records.

In the south confinement building, the consultant found a few hundred pigs had died and didn’t have access to water, records state. The temperature in the building was in the 50s, which was well below the 80-85 degrees needed for the pigs to thrive.

Most, if not all, of the feeders were empty, and the water bowls weren’t even hooked up to the water system, short records state.

Court records alleviate the conditions at the northern building were worse with about 600 dead pigs and colder inside temperatures. Again, some water bowls weren’t hooked up and feeders were empty.

Pigs were in piles along the heaters, as if they were trying to get any warmth possible. Dead pigs were found inside feeders, where they apparently went to escape the cold concrete floors. Those that were alive were licking the walls floors and trying to find nourishment, records state.

Photos taken by a veterinarian who visited the scene show two groups of pigs separated by a metal fence. On one side, the water bowl wasn’t hooked up, and the pigs were dead. The other side had a bowl hooked to the water system, and the pigs were alive.

The surviving pigs were removed from the property, and during the trip 50 perished. Another 25 died after being watered.

In all, some 800 pigs died, according to court records.

Lab tests at the Iowa State University Diagnostic Lab in Ames found no signs of disease but discovered malnourishment and dehydration.

In January 2022, Black Hawk County sheriff’s deputies arrested DeWall for animal neglect, and his case is tentatively set for trial in August.

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