Retired Forest Service Cop Gets Fine, House Arrest For Stealing Horses

A Wyoming man was sentenced to house arrest and to pay $15,000 on Wednesday for illegally keeping government horses — and trying to switch them out with his own — when he retired as a Forest Service law enforcement officer.

Mark Heinz

February 22, 20243 min read

Ron Ostrom in February 2022.
Ron Ostrom in February 2022. ((via Facebook))

A retired U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer from Powell was hit with nearly $15,000 in fines, restitution and court costs after a jury convicted him of fraudulently switching out government horses with his own animals.

Ronald Ostrum, 54, must also serve two years’ probation and six months of home confinement, according to court records.

He kept the government horses for himself, according to court documents.

A grand jury indictment that launched the case also accused him of keeping two government mules, ammunition, a trailer and other items belonging to the Forest Service.

U.S. District Court of Wyoming Judge Nancy Freudenthal handed the sentence down Wednesday after Ostrom was convicted by a jury in December of six federal felony charges.

Those included two counts of making a false writing, two counts of making false statements, one count of concealing and retaining government property, and one count of conversion of government property.

Helped Himself To Horses

Ostrom in 2021 deliberately switched two horses he was supposed to return to the Forest Service with other horses, according to a U.S. District Court indictment provided to Cowboy State Daily.

He was supposed to return a brown gelding named Reo and a blue roan mare named Roany, according to the document.

Instead, he switched them out with a different gelding that he bought in 2019, and a different mare that he bought in 2020.

Other Allegations Of Keeping Government Property

He also “did knowingly receive, conceal and retain” two government mules — Rosy and Rock — according to the indictment.

His indictment also says he allegedly stole “10,000 rounds of various types of ammunition,” a 1997 Lariat two-place snowmobile trailer, a packing tent and various horse and mule tack and packing equipment that belonged to the Forest Service.

Under House Arrest

Ostrom was placed under house arrest, with a monitoring device, for the first six months of his probation, according to Freudenthal’s sentence.

He’ll be allowed to leave for such things as work, religious services, medical treatments, appointments with his attorney and “other activities pre-approved by your supervising officer,” according to court records.

Big Chunk Of Restitution

The heftiest financial blow is $11,747 in restitution for government property that Ostrom was ordered to start paying immediately.

“The defendant shall apply the full amount of any annual federal and/or state income tax refund toward payment of any monetary obligations,” according to the sentence order. “In addition, if the defendant receives substantial resources (over $500) from any source, including but not limited to inheritance, gift, liquidation of assets, settlement or other judgment during a period of supervision, the defendant shall be required to apply the value of such resources to any restitution or other monetary obligations still owed.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter