USDA Reaches a Consent Decision with Ashville Stockyard Inc., Bradley M. Plunkett and Tilda Plunkett for Violations of the P&S Act

Date: 
Friday, January 17, 2020 - 11:30am
Contact Info: 

Release No.: 012-20

WASHINGTON, Jan 17, 2020 – As part of its commitment to ensuring fair and competitive markets for the livestock, meat and poultry industries, on Jan. 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reached a consent decision against Ashville Stockyard Inc. (Ashville Stockyard), Bradley M. Plunkett and Tilda Plunkett of Ashville, Ala., for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.

An investigation by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service resulted in the issuance of an administrative complaint on May 9, 2019, against Ashville Stockyard, and its owners/managers, Bradley M. and Tilda Plunkett, for failure to properly use and maintain their custodial account. The complaint alleged custodial account shortages of $68,821 on Oct. 13, 2017; $110,869 on Dec. 20, 2017; $18,507 on March 29, 2018; and $34,720 on May 8, 2018. The shortages in Ashville Stockyard’s custodial account were due, in part, to depositing $17,175 in proceeds from the sale of livestock directly into Ashville’s general account rather than its custodial account. Ashville Stockyard and its owners also misused the custodial account by transferring $35,507 in custodial account funds into its general account while a shortage existed in the custodial account.

Under the consent decision, Ashville Stockyard, Bradley M. and Tilda Plunkett were jointly assessed a civil penalty of $20,000.

Ashville Stockyard also agreed to a suspension of 14 days (Jan. 5-18, 2020) and thereafter, until its owners prove that they corrected the custodial account shortage.

In addition, Ashville Stockyard, Bradley M. and Tilda Plunkett, and all others connected to the business must cease and desist from:

  • Failing to properly maintain the custodial account in strict conformity with the P&S Act and regulations;
  • Failing to deposit into the custodial account an amount equal to the proceeds receivable from the sale of consigned livestock when required;
  • Misusing custodial account funds by transferring funds from the custodial account into the general bank account when the custodial account already has a shortage, or in a way that would create a shortage; and
  • Misusing custodial account funds by depositing proceeds from the sale of consigned livestock directly into the general account, rather than into the custodial account.

The P&S Act is a fair trade practice and payment protection law that promotes fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat and poultry industries.

For further information about the P&S Act, contact Stuart Frank, Packers and Stockyards Division, at (515) 323-2586, or by email at stuart.frank@usda.gov.

Get the latest Agricultural Marketing Service news at www.ams.usda.gov/news or follow us on Twitter @USDA_AMS. You can also read about us on the USDA blog.

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