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My Grandfather Sentenced To 18 Months/300k For Protecting His Farm! Please Help!

“And the truth shall set you free”

That is a quote we are all aware of. We have been taught that at a very young age that honesty is always the best policy, regardless of the consequences. But I am here to tell you that it isn’t always the case.

My Grandfather, James R. Cate, is a man who has always followed that logic. He is always honest, he is always giving, and he always gone out of his way to do for others. He is a good hearted, well principled man. Unfortunately, even with a lifetime track record of following these principles, he was made out to be something much worse on the day of March 8th 2013 when he made a mistake and used poor judgment.

My grandfather resides in Talpa, Texas and has been growing organic crops for a few years now. In his approach to become “certified organic” he must follow certain rules in order to obtain and preserve that title, one of them being pesticide-free for up to 7 years.

On February 29, 2012, my grandfather noticed a crop duster spraying pesticides over a neighboring field. Because of the rules and stipulations required for his crops to become certified organic; the pesticides the crop duster was spraying could not come in contact with my grandfather’s crops, otherwise his land would be compromised. In order to alert the pilot and frighten him away from his crops, he used a Ruger Number One, 25-06 caliber single shot rifle with a Redfield scope, and fired a few rounds into the air. The last round he fired ended up hitting the propeller of the aircraft and damaging the plane. The pilot was not injured.

After the incident, my grandfather being the honest man that he is, contacted 9-1-1 to report what had happened. He could have kept silent and not said anything at all, but that wouldn’t have been like him. He was charged with a federal felony offense of making a threat to an aircraft and pleaded guilty upon his court hearing.

On March 8, 2013 my grandfather attended court to receive sentencing. The defendant came prepared with cancelled checks which during trial we found were for the rental of multiple planes that were rented to continue his work while his main aircraft was in the shop for repairs. Interestingly enough, he did not have any invoices for the work that had been done, just the cancelled checks for what appeared to have paid for the excess planes he rented. This was curious because the crop duster only had one plane and not three that were damaged as a result of the gunshot.

Other cancelled checks were submitted for work that had been done on his plane due to an accident that had occurred in May following the shooting incident. Where he hit a power line and severely damaged his plane, which had nothing to do with my grandfather. The prosecution then proceeded to belittle my grandfather’s organic farm by saying that he is complaining about “a little pesticide being sprayed” on “a mere 17 acres of organic oats” and “42 sheep” on this “retirement hobby” land as if it should not be of anyone’s concern. And then that his PH.D in Science was inferior education to the physics analytics that were present in the bullet’s flight, therefore his random shots had to have been intended to hit the pilot. They also made it sound like my grandfather’s land (which was inherited by my grandmother when her mother passed away) was a hand-out and he somehow led a silver-spoon fed lifestyle. Which is not the case, I will have you know, that my grandfather’s dad died when he was 39 of heart disease, my grandfather was 18 years of age.

My grandfather put himself through college with the help of grants, scholarships and hard work and the hard work of my grandmother (his wife) working to help with living expenses and assist with putting him through school. He received $25/month from his mother because she was now a single mother raising three children on a limited income. There were never any handouts. He is a hardworking and honest American with no history of criminal background.

There had been an investigation performed by the Texas Department of Agriculture that had stated something to the affect that the chemicals found on his crops (yes, there was chemicals on his crops) that the determination could not be proven whether or not it was a result of the pilot’s crop dusting that day…yet he was the only one who could have done such a thing.

Keep in mind, there are multiple cases with this particular pilot damaging the land of others when it comes to spraying these chemicals as well as, numerous accounts of reckless flying, taking down power lines and causing fires. This isn’t his first rodeo. He is known by many around the area for his reckless endangerment of others and total disregard for people and/or their property. With all the past negative history associated with Steven Ballard Crop Dusting (Steven Ballard, the pilot in question) and the fact that this man is still able to fly and continues to cause damage around him, it can only be speculated but not proven that this particular person is either extremely lucky or he has friends in high places. Only speculation on my part because it just doesn’t seem feasibly possible. I get too many traffic tickets and I lose my license. With that said, who really knows with the current situation of our legal system…this kind of stuff isn’t uncommon and happens daily. It is no longer whether or not you are innocent or guilty, it is whether or not you have the means to pay enough money to ensure you win the game…we call the “legal system”.

My grandfather was sentenced to 18 months in prison and is required to pay $300,000 in restitution. He is 69 years old, has been married to his wife for 48 years. He has two boys and 3 grandchildren. He is unable to carry or be around firearms for the rest of his life. His freedom and his livelihood have been taken away. Yes, he made a mistake and should pay for his mistake. I ask, how does this punishment fit the crime?
I am writing this in hopes that anyone, whether you are a farmer, lawyer, father, grandson, etc. will read this and share it with people you know. Because this is a federal case, there is a 10 day window to appeal and since the appeal is pretty expensive, I have thought about starting some sort of fundraiser to pay the legal fees for an appeal. I have been doing my own research and I have found multiple cases that have been won due to property rights being violated, along with various Supreme Court over rulings. Another interesting fact is that Texas law permits the use of force when an owner’s property is being violated. I wouldn’t move forward with this if I didn’t feel like we had a chance to fix the injustice that lay upon my grandfather. I am certain that this happens on a day-to-day basis across the country. It is not right, it is unfair, and it cannot continue.

My grandfather doesn’t mind sitting in prison for the 18-month term. In fact, he even said that it would give him time to compose a novel since that has always been a dream of his. He is ashamed of his actions and is accepting the punishment for those actions. However, paying the absurd amount of $300,000 is unsettling to him, me, and anyone who has heard his case. He is hesitant to file an appeal because of the additional expenses as well as the doubt of an overturned ruling. I do not have those reservations. I believe that with enough support, a well-versed lawyer, and a dash of faith we can get this case reexamined and hopefully overturned.

Here are links from newspapers about his case:;re...

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I don't offer much advice or counsel for this, but I did submit the news of this to, since I know them to be a fair news site.
Good luck!



I would have used the Texas Stand your Ground law

Protecting life or property with a gun is allowed

He should have took this approach, contaminates soil would have destroyed his ability to provide for himself

But what I don't get is how he knew he hit the plane's prop to call Police?

Both my grandfather and the

Both my grandfather and the pilot had no idea the plane was hit until the FBI examiner looked at it. The pilot assumed he was having technical difficulties on his flight back home. My grandfather called the police just to report what had happened.

Joel Salatin and his groups have information.

Trespassing of gmo pollen might have precedence with pesticides.

The bottom line is that grandpas crops were damaged, he has lost the premium that organic crops would have yielded.

To gain Constitutional authority, prove rights violated and property damaged.

Free includes debt-free!

I have a great deal of

I have a great deal of sympathy for your grandfather and I'm so sorry for what you're going through.

I have a question: How could he have possibly hit the plane if he wasn't aiming for it? If he just meant for the pilot to hear the shot, then firing at the plane would be completely unnecessary.

Edit for another question: Can a pilot in a loud crop duster even hear a gunshot?

The plane was within 15 feet

The plane was within 15 feet of the ground, so it is very possible.

There are couple things to add:

1. Supreme court ruled that Americans have 200 ft of sky above their home or land

2. Texas Law
9.41 Protection of one's own property

A person in lawful possesion of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degress the actor reasonably believes the force is immedietly necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.

To answer your last question: I am not sure, but in order to protect his land he had to act quickly.

It was within 15' from the

It was within 15' from the ground, but how far was it from your grandfather when he fired the shots?

In your original post you mentioned that the plane was over a neighboring field. How close did it come to your grandfather's field, or was overspray the primary concern?

The Texas law which you give mentions the permission of force to divert trespass. "Force" alone, though, is not the eqivalent of "deadly force". A bullet has the potential to be deadly--five or ten feet of difference and the pilot could have been dead. I find it hard to believe that your grandfather could have hit a fast moving plane without aiming for it, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

I understand and appreciate

I understand and appreciate your points. I am not certain of the exact location of my grandfather other than he was on his own property at the time. I am attempting to retrieve the transcripts from the court case.

I would maybe consider section 9.42 (use of deadly force)

I think the primary concern was both overspray and direct spray. When you are attempting to become certified organic, it cannot be contaminated, period.

I am so sorry

I grew up in a rural area and have had to deal with crop dusters my whole life. I finally moved into town just to avoid them. You can report them all day long, and nothing ever happens to these guys. They spray gardens, homes, and even people if they happen to be unlucky enough to be in the path. They don't cut the spray off in time so it coats everything around. Driving down the road, your windshield even gets covered if the pass over you. I hate, hate, hate those people, and I would love to see them all grounded. I've heard, "There's no danger from the crop dusters spraying around your home." OK, if that's the case, then let's see the farmers and pilots spray this stuff at ground level where they can breathe it. So, again, I am very sorry that your grandfather is being punished for doing exactly what everyone else wants to do.

you're right . . . I am quite sure.

I knew at least one crazy crop duster--

very arrogant anyway--

so much cancer around these things--

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

File to vacate the sentence & penalty. Counter sue.

Role reversal. "Concealing crucial facts from the court, effectively deprived those represented of their day in court, so as to constitute fraud on the court." ( Legal Dictionary)

Evidence of damage claims were severely misrepresented & has little baring on the case. No damage claims by defendant entered. Counter suit may force the issue of "making parties whole."

Alternatively, suing for damages & eliminating damage claims caused by falsifying evidence & obvious fraud.

Disclaimer: I ain't seen nothing. And that's a fact.

GOLD: Moralizing, I observed, then, that "all that glitters is not gold." ... gold in its native state is but dull, un-ornamental stuff, and that only lowborn metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter. However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of mica. Commonplace human nature cannot rise above that. - Mark Twain, Roughing It

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

Insane. It's akin to a woman

Insane. It's akin to a woman who was raped being sued by her assailant for having punched him in the nose while defending herself.

This is heart breaking.

How long d you have to come up with the money? They are out to get the land, please know that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
There may be some support from the organic farming community, but they tend to be bleeding heart liberals and will be knee-jerking to the use of a gun. You can try these folks:
I don't mean to sound unsympathetic to your grandfather's plight - I appreciate a "Give me liberty or I'll get up and get it myself" attitude. However, you are going to need to play for sympathy to save that farm. You may have better luck pleading your GRANDMOTHER'S case. She is an "innocent victim" even in the eyes of gunophobes, and you may have more luck getting $ympathy from them pointing out that he is in prison, SHE has to pay the fine.
Best of luck, and tell your grandpa I look forward to reading his novel, but to take some time to teach the inmates about liberty, too.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

Thank you thank you thank

Thank you thank you thank you.

This is exactly why I posted on the DailyPaul. Liberty is always welcome. As well as the respect of someone's property rights!

I will use that link you provided and explain the case.

Since this is a federal case, I believe there are 10 days until an appeal can be filed - I just have to see if the support will be there in the event we take that route.

Again, thank you for your words.

Take lots of routes. Address redress.

Roots too!

Redress Law & Legal Definition
Redress means to set right, relief or remedy or a means of seeking relief or remedy. It can be putting right a wrong by compensation or compensation for injuries sustained; recovery or restitution for harm or injury; damages or equitable relief. Right to redress refers to the right to a relief or remedy.

Give the courts a show of what Grandpa & Grandma are about. I hard working farmers are easy to defend. Lest it used to be the case.

Repeating: I ain't seen nothing.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul


I'm sorry; something similar to this happened to a friend of ours two years ago, and--

the justice system in this nation has been hijacked, I believe. $300,000--

isn't that more than would be required to repair the damage to the plane wing?


it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Alot more! The prosecution

Alot more! The prosecution got everything she wanted and then some. The pilot complained about lost wages, pain and suffering (from what?) and much more. It is absolutely absurd.

If anyone reading this..

can provide me with a useful donation tool for those that can help monetarily, I will be forever grateful.

Word of mouth is great too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this story!


Use the donation button or donation page feature...

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!

I use WePay.

for my business and for random fundraising projects. very simple. low fees. you can be up and running quick.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!

Thank you!

Thank you!

Wow! ChipIn is GONE!

I thought this was an odd question, but...
No more chip in.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

Trust me, it was the first

Trust me, it was the first thing I checked! Sad to see it gone :(