HILL COUNTY, Texas — Central Texas cattle raisers can rest a lot easier following the arrest and imprisonment of "notorious livestock thief," William "Willie" Rittenbaugh.
Rittenbaugh, 49, pleaded guilty to five felony charges in a cattle stealing operation that spanned both Hill and Limestone counties, dating back to May 2018.
In the Hill County 66th District Court, Rittenbaugh pleaded guilty to:
- One count, first degree felony, misappropriation of fiduciary property. He received a 12-year sentence and was ordered to pay the victim $435,000 restitution on 511 head of cattle.
- One count, second degree felony, misappropriation of fiduciary property. Rittenbaugh received a 10-year sentence and ordered to pay the victim $150,000 restitution on 191 head of cattle.
- Two counts, third degree felony, theft of livestock. He received and eight-year sentence on a total of 83 head of cattle.
In the Limestone County 77th District Court, Rittenbaugh pleaded guilty to:
- One count, third degree felony, theft of livestock. He received a seven-year sentence and was ordered to pay $3,500 restitution on one horse.
Rittenbaugh's sentencing totals 37 years and has been ordered to pay a total of $588,500 in restitution to the victims.
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Marvin Wills said the long investigation was made a little easier because of the victim's branded cattle and good record keeping.
“Cases like this serve as a good reminder,” Wills said. “When it comes to theft prevention or recovery of stolen animals, nothing beats a brand.”
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