Missouri farmer Wayne Cryts, his wife, father and two friends must pay more than $287,000 to cover losses suffered by fellow farmers, a judge ruled yesterday.

Any defendant can pay the money but if they don't come forth with it by today they must pay an additional $1,500 a day, Judge Charles Baker said in a 19-page judgment filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The $287,708.73 judgment will be used to pay farmers who lost soybeans stored in an elevator from which Cryts and the others took 33,000 bushels, Baker said. Cryts said the grain was his and sold it. The elevator was holding soybeans for the James Brothers Co., which declared bankruptcy.

Baker ordered Cryts jailed for civil contempt on April 28. He was freed May 24 when Baker said the civil case was technically closed because an agreement was reached to divide the James Brothers assets.

"It is obvious to the court that Mr. Cryts envisions himself to be some sort of folk hero who has been called on from on high to right the wrongs inflicted upon farmers when grain elevators fail," Baker said.

"He [Cryts] has stolen from the court and his neighbors; he ought to be punished for his criminal acts," Baker said. Cryts was unavailable for comment.