A man accused of stealing more than two dozen cattle from Nevada worth $14,000 has agreed to enter a guilty plea to avoid trial, prosecutors said.
The plea bargain was worked out just before Brian Peacock's preliminary hearing Thursday in Churchill County Justice Court.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Stockard said Peacock agreed to plead guilty to 14 counts of felony grand larceny in exchange for dismissal of 14 similar charges.
Peacock, 40, who goes by the alias Salty VanKirk, is accused of stealing 28 cattle in April from a Fallon field about 60 miles east of Reno.
The Nevada Agriculture Department began an investigation after a brand inspector in Arizona read a bulletin about cattle missing from Fallon and then spotted brand-overs in Arizona.
The 28 cattle were transported to Arizona, where they were rebranded. They have since been returned to owner Alan Mendes.
"This man was a one-man crime spree," Stockard said. "This is a ranching community, and when you come onto someone's land and take their cattle it becomes personal. We want to send a strong message that we protect our ranchers."
Stockard said he's still unsure whether to prosecute Peacock's former girlfriend, Shelli Hollaway, 39, who was arrested with him.
Hollaway was one of 10 witnesses who had planned to testify against Peacock and may not have been involved in the crimes, Stockard said.
"There is some evidence that the reason they broke up is because she became aware of what he had done and became upset," the prosecutor said.
Peacock, who has lived in Nevada and Arizona, is expected to enter pleas Tuesday in district court. Each count carries a a prison term of one to five years and a $10,000 fine.
Charges of drug possession and failure to appear in court will not be pursued as part of the agreement, Stockard said.
Local law enforcement authorities teamed up with state agents in Nevada and Arizona on the cattle rustling case.