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Pierz man accused of cattle theft from S.D. auction barn

WATERTOWN, S.D. (AP) -- Codington County authorities have charged a 52-year-old Pierz, Minn., man with aggravated grand theft after 188 head of cattle allegedly were stolen from a Watertown auction barn March 3.

Sheriff Toby Wishard says Joey "Joe" Varner was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Fergus Falls, Minn. and was taken to the Ottertail County, Minn., jail.

The cattle have been located and are at an undisclosed site. They were under U.S. Bankruptcy Court control, pending their sale in Watertown.

Varner, a co-owner of Watertown Livestock, was released after posting $100,000 bond. He is to be in court in Watertown July 14. He has ownership interests in other livestock auction barns in South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota.

The maximum penalty for aggravated grand theft is 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

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