Missouri man charged in brothers' deaths accused of fraud

HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH
Associated Press
FILE - This undated booking photo provided by the Caldwell County, Mo., Detention Center shows Garland "Joey" Nelson. Nelson, a Missouri farmer accused of attempting to cover up a $215,000 cattle fraud scheme by killing two Wisconsin brothers. Nelson was indicted Tuesday, May 18, 2021, on a federal mail fraud charge. The federal charge focuses on the financial deal that brought the brothers, 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wis., to Missouri. (Caldwell County Detention Center via AP File)

A Missouri farmer accused of attempting to cover up a $215,000 cattle fraud scheme by killing two Wisconsin brothers was indicted Tuesday on a federal mail fraud charge.

Garland Joseph Nelson, 27, is awaiting trial on state murder and other charges  in the deaths of 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. The brothers disappeared after visiting Nelson's farm in July 2019, and their burned remains were later found in Missouri and Nebraska. 

The federal charge focuses on the financial deal that brought the brothers to Missouri. 

Nelson agreed to feed and pasture cattle belonging to the brothers' Wisconsin livestock trade and investment business, the indictment says. The arrangement was supposed to end with Nelson, who worked for J4s Farm Enterprises Inc., a business started by his mother, selling the cattle and sending the brothers the proceeds, minus the costs of raising the cattle. 

But the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release that Nelson sold, traded or killed many of the Diemels' cattle without paying them. 

The indictment also alleges that the cattle in Nelson's care "had high death rates due to underfeeding, neglect, and/or maltreatment." In one case, he dropped hay bales in a pasture for calves but did not remove the plastic covering, so calves ate the plastic and died. 

Throughout the spring of 2019, Nicholas Diemel pressed Nelson for payment. Nelson responded by fraudulently sending the Diemels a bad check for $215,936 while the account had a balance of 21 cents, according to the U.S. attorney's office. The check had been intentionally torn and damaged so it could not be submitted for payment.

The brothers eventually flew to Kansas City in July 2019, rented a pickup truck and drove to Nelson's mother's farm in Braymer. The indictment alleges that Nelson then killed them.