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James Stinehagen, who controls The Flying S Cattle Company LLC, paid roughly $2.5 million this morning for the Scott ranch along Old Hardin Road about 18 miles southeast of Billings.

Stinehagen essentially paid for the Scott Ranch what he was owed and took back the 6,462 acres of land in lieu of his debt.

"It's a credit sale," said David Dietrich, Stinehagen's attorney.

In 2006, Stinehagen bought the second mortgage on the property. This year, he bought out the first mortgage and foreclosed against 19 parties who claimed to be creditors. Then he bought the Scott ranch back at this sale.

"I'm going to run it as a ranch," Stinehagen said, adding he'll raise cattle, not horses.

The ranch used to be owned by John Scott Jr., who won a lifetime achievement award for breeding horses from the American Quarter Horse Association and Bayer Animal Health. John Scott is no relation to the Scott family that owns the First Interstate Bank system.

In August 2000, Scott held a world-class sale of his Montana herd of cutting horses he had bred over a lifetime, a sale that topped $3 million. Scott then sold the ranch to the Leachman Cattle Co. reportedly for $3.1 million.

Leachman Cattle missed payments on the Scott ranch and Farm Credit Services filed for default.

Stinehagen and Jim Leachman, a world-renowned cattle breeder from Billings, are only involved in legal disputes over the Scott Ranch, not the other Leachman properties. Jim Leachman used to head Leachman Cattle Co., but now does business under the name Leachman Cattle Baron Bulls & Hairpin Cavvy.

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


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