Extortion charges bring out more calls

WIMER — Sheriff's detectives were flooded with calls late last week from people concerned that a long-time Jackson County Animal Control officer used his position to steal their livestock and property, police said.

Andy Ray Lane, 53, was arraigned Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court on two counts of extortion, two counts of first-degree theft, two counts of coercion and one count of official misconduct.

"We've received more than a dozen calls from people who claim Lane might have taken their livestock and property in a questionable manner," Jackson County Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said. "It will take us some time to contact these people to see if their stories check out."

Fagan said many of the scenarios callers described closely matched the case for which Lane was arrested.

In April, police allege, Lane responded to an "anonymous" report of abuse of two horses that were enclosed in a pen which Lane told the owner was too small.

Lane reportedly returned to the residence, which is just outside Wimer, and warned the property owner he could face stiff fines if the situation was not corrected.

Lane then returned to the house with a trailer to take the horses and some expensive fence panels to help corral the animals.

The sheriff's office alleges Lane used his position to force the owner to give him the horses and the valuable fencing.

Following publication of the story Friday, one caller told sheriff's detectives that Lane also had threatened to take pigs from his property because they were not being properly cared for. The man decided to get rid of the pigs rather than face the alleged fines, Fagan said.

"I would like to ask those who might be affected by this case to be patient with us as we sort through the calls we've gotten," Fagan said. "We are still encouraging anyone who feels they might have additional information about this case."

Any Jackson County residents who think they might have been taken advantage of by Lane in a similar manner are asked to call the Sheriff's Department tip line at 774-8333.

Call reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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