WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio Holstein Association is trying to reclaim garnished funds and settle a debt over a cattle contract its officers say they did not authorize.
Association president Dallas Rynd said the situation involves outstanding debt from a cattle contract entered into by the association’s now-terminated general manager, Don Alexander, nearly three years ago.
In a May 28 letter to members, Rynd wrote that board members had no knowledge that Alexander had entered into the contract, until checks began to bounce following the association’s April sale of dairy cattle.About $169,000 was garnished from the organization and the April Spring Sale of dairy cattle in Wayne County. It’s about half of what the organization reportedly owed to Nil Livestock.
“A default judgment has been filed against us in the amount of $346,000,” Rynd said, “due to the 2011 Turkey export deal with Nil Livestock Co., which Don Alexander entered into in the name of the Association, despite specific instructions to the contrary.”
The first complaint against the association was filed Sept. 9, 2011, in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. The board was not aware of the matter, as well as multiple court judgments and court dates that were missed, until May 17, 2013.
“The board had no knowledge of these accusations,” Rynd said. “We knew nothing of this until May 17 when the first check bounced.”
One possible explanation is that court documents were being mailed to an address other than the main Ohio Holstein Association address. It could not be confirmed at presstime who created the second address, or why it was created.
Rynd could not confirm, nor were there public records of any legal action taken against Alexander beyond his termination. But Rynd said litigation is still pending.The board voted to terminate Alexander June 1.
Farm and Dairy left two voicemails seeking comment from Alexander, but both were unanswered.
The association has since hired its own legal counsel, Kennedy, Cicconetti, Knowlton & Buytendyk, of Wooster, to represent its interests in the export contract dispute.
Attorney Timothy L. McGarry, of Highland Heights near Cleveland, is representing New Jersey-based Nil Livestock, which had agreed to purchase and ship heifers to Turkey.McGarry said some heifers were received and shipped, but not as many as stipulated in the contract.
“Not enough were provided and there were some pre-payments for more heifers than were provided,” he said.
Rynd said 420 heifers were listed in the contract order, and 258 were shipped. The heifers came from multiple farms.
Farm and Dairy asked Rynd whether the suppliers of the heifers might have questioned the contract, and whether it was legitimate, but he said it’s not clear they would of had any reason.
“I don’t know if they asked that question,” he said. “My guess is they were probably going off of Ohio Holstein’s strong reputation.”
McGarry said of the $169,000 garnished, about $110,000 was recently returned to the association, after learning that it came from the consignments of individual farmers.He expects a confidential negotiation will be reached for the remaining amount owed.
The next step, McGarry said, is “to negotiate a confidential settlement between Nil and the association, which will not impact the (district court’s declaratory) judgment.”
In an interview June 24, Rynd said checks were put in the mail June 22, to consignors whose checks bounced at the April sale. He estimated about 25-30 did not receive payment.
Rynd, like other board members and dairy producers, is shocked that the case could go on for so long, and that money could be taken, without the board knowing.
“How this could go on this long is hard to believe,” he said.He said more updates will be available as the matter is resolved.