Judge Rejects Rancher's Bankruptcy Plan

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A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled a cattle and horse breeder's efforts to reorganize his finances have failed and his ranches must be sold.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher made the ruling Friday in the case of James H. Leachman, who filed for bankruptcy protection last summer to save his two ranches east of Billings.

In 2006, U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull of Billings ordered the federal government to sell the ranches to pay off $1.7 million in delinquent federal loans and possibly other creditors. Leachman appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Cebull's ruling.

Leachman filed for bankruptcy last July, just 90 minutes before his ranches were to be sold at a foreclosure sale.

Kirscher, presiding over the hearing via video from Missoula, gave Leachman 14 days to deal with the hundreds of horses grazing on his property.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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