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Potential buyers look over horses
Potential buyers look over 10 pens of horses formerly owned by James Leachman that were confiscated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for trespassing on Crow Tribal lands. Leachman on Wednesday presented a check at the BIA office in Crow Agency to buy back 60 to 70 of the horses.

Jim Leachman of Billings presented a check Wednesday at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Crow Agency to buy back 60 to 70 of the 829 horses he is accused of starving.

His son, Seth Leachman, bought the quarter horses during last weekend's BIA auction at the Home Place Ranch 16 miles east of Billings.

"He (Jim Leachman) came in and paid with a cashier's check for the amount that he owed," BIA Crow Agency Superintendent Vianna Stewart said.

Stewart said she didn't know the exact amount of the check because she was traveling Wednesday and all the agency employees who knew the total were attending a Thursday afternoon meeting about the pending federal government shutdown.

Yellowstone County Sheriff Lt. Kent O'Donnell said he heard the check was for $35,000.

The Leachman Cattle Co. lost the ranch to a neighboring family during a federal foreclosure sale last July.

In January, a local veterinarian declared that hundreds of Leachman horses left on the ranch were starving. The Yellowstone County Attorney's Office has had charges filed against Leachman for 14 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office and Northern International Livestock Exposition fed the horses donated hay through the winter.

Last month, the BIA confiscated 829 horses for trespassing on tribal lands and sold them in a two-day sale Saturday and Sunday. 

Jim Leachman still has about 800 acres of Crow Tribal lands under lease on the Home Place Ranch, Stewart said. Theoretically, he could turn the horses loose on the ranch again.

"Seth bought them (the horses). Seth has no leases, so we couldn't put any conditions on him," Stewart said.

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Contact Jan Falstad at jfalstad@billingsgazette.com or 406-657-1306.

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