Prosecutors update grain theft victims on case
Jan. 28, 2018 at 9:30 p.m.
Updated Jan. 29, 2018 at 6:51 p.m.
EDNA - When the owners of Poldrack Grain and Cattle sold 40,000 bushels of corn to a Beeville grain broker, the deal was normal in almost every way but one.
"The never sent a check," said Coupland business owner Terry Poldrack, 63, who lost about $240,000.
On Friday morning, Poldrack, his wife and almost 20 other grain-theft victims appeared at an upstairs courtroom in the Jackson County Courthouse. There, District Attorney Pam Guenther and attorney Stephen Cihal, who is assisting with prosecution, briefed victims about the status of their case.
"Last month, we were successful in getting a trial date," Guenther said, opening the meeting.
On Sept. 30, 2015, a Jackson County grand jury handed down charges to six men for engaging in organized criminal activity, theft, which is a first-degree felony carrying possible sentences of 15 to 99 years or life in prison.
Guenther said parsing the case's vast amount of evidence, which includes 124 boxes of information and thousands of documents, has taken time.
Prosecutors will seek prison time for the men, Guenther said, although doing so will mean chances for restitution are "very slim."
"We are trying to get what we think is justice for you," he said.
The men are accused of participating in a scheme to steal corn, wheat, sorghum and money from Texas farmers, of which about two-thirds operate in Jackson County, according to court records.
The case involves about 80 victims, Guenther said.
Of the six defendants, Frederich R. Schauer III and Thomas Ted Treybig will stand trial first with a date set for Sept. 24. District Judge Jack Marr will preside.
The remaining defendants, Kenneth Doyle Schauer, Norbert Ben Popp and David Carl Bram, will be scheduled for a later date, Cihal said.
Prosecutors have opted for separate trials because the defendants participated in the crimes with differing levels of culpability, he said.
After entering into a verbal contract with the men through Bram, who acted as broker, the Poldracks delivered about a fifth of their annual corn crop to Tyson Foods in Gonzales, Poldrack said. Verbal contracts with grain dealers are common practice for farmers, he said. In fact, the Poldracks had done legitimate business with Bram before, they said.
"Individuals like myself have trouble getting into the big plants (and) selling corn," Poldrack said. "You have to go through some big shot who sells a hundred loads a day."
Although their business also deals in cattle and other sources of revenue, the theft was a serious, unrecoupable loss, Poldrack said.
"The corn is gone. Chickens ate it in Gonzales," he said.
Despite that acknowledgement, the business owner said he would like to see the defendants' property seized and divided among victims.
"They ought to find something, split it up and give everybody a portion, whether its 10 cents, 20 cents or something," he said.
Nevertheless, Poldrack said, incarceration would give him some satisfaction.
"At least he doesn't get to sit there and just enjoy it," Poldrack said. "It don't bother me a bit."
This story was update Jan. 29, to correct the spelling of David Carl Bram's last name.