By Josh Newton
TAHLEQUAH — A Cherokee County jury on Wednesday sentenced a Checotah man to two five-year sentences for his involvement in an alleged cattle-rustling scheme.
Keith Edward Rock, 51, was charged with larceny of domestic animals and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Jurors found Rock guilty and recommended five-year sentences for both counts. District Judge Darrell Shepherd set formal sentencing for June 12. Shepherd will then decide whether Rock’s five-year sentences are served consecutively or concurrently.
After jurors were dismissed, Rock was taken into custody and transported to the Cherokee County Detention Center.
Rock was charged along with Nathan A. Deckard and Joel A. Maker, both of Tahlequah.
Investigators said Rock was caught in November 2012 taking 10 head of cattle from Speedy and Scott Chaffin. A member of the Chaffin family came upon Rock as he was driving away with a trailer full of cattle, and realized they belonged to his family.
Rock later drove back to where the cattle had been taken and was arrested for larceny. Sheriff’s Investigator Harold Thomas joined forces with Patrick Blake, a special agent and investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and determined Maker and Deckard were involved in enticing the cattle into a corral so they could be loaded up and hauled away.
Maker, 51, and Deckard, 30, were allegedly in the truck with Rock, but slipped away before they could be noticed.
Investigators said the men intended to sell the cattle in McAlester.
Deckard and Maker have yet to go before a jury. Prosecutors attempted to have the three cases combined for one jury trial, but that effort was denied by a judge.