MINNEAPOLIS - John Morken built a massive cattle trading empire that stretched across the Midwest, touching the lives of thousands of ranchers and the books of dozens of banks.

But Firstar Bank of Milwaukee, his principal bank, alleges that the empire was nothing more than a house of cards. In June 1994, Firstar pulled the plug on Mr. Morken, charging that he was running one of the biggest and most elaborate check-kiting schemes ever.

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