A Billings cattle rancher who admitted defrauding the Bureau of Land Management of fees in a grazing scheme in which he lied about the ownership and number of cattle he was grazing was sentenced Wednesday to four years of probation, fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $143,714 restitution, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Gene John Klamert, 71, pleaded guilty in January to mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.
The government alleged in court documents that between 2017 and 2020, Klamert held a BLM grazing permit that allowed him to graze his cattle on public land near Winnett. The permit authorized Klamert to graze cattle he owned for a low monthly base rate, compared to private grazing fees, which are typically 10 times higher or more. Klamert’s BLM permit also authorized him to graze other people’s cattle, but he was required to report them and pay a surcharge for every head of cattle he grazed that he did not personally own.
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BLM first discovered Klamert underreporting cattle in 2017. When confronted, Klamert admitted grazing 100 cattle that did not belong to him and that he did not