By Tammy Curtis
Two and a half years after pulling away with a load of cattle from the Ash Flat Livestock Auction, Ron Shepard, the man responsible for being the ring leader of a four state, modern day cattle rustling scheme, was sentenced on July 3 for his role in bilking the Mike Nix family out of $1.16 million in cattle.
Shepard had denied his guilt and it appeared that the case was headed to trial, until he agreed on July 3 to discuss a possible plea bargain.
Shepard, 38, was reported missing last May, just days prior to a federal parole revocation hearing in Illinois, and evidently fled to Mexico to avoid apprehension. He was apprehended in Mexico in July 2012, and extradited back to a federal prison in Michigan where he was put back in prison to serve his original term for a federal wire fraud conviction in 2004.
On Jan. 2, Sharp County authorities brought Shepard from Michigan to Sharp County to face the first of many felony charges related to his cattle scheme.
Shepard joined his employee and co-conspirator, Jeremy Pierce, in the Sharp County Detention Center upon his arrival. Shepard's bond was set at $400,000 at a Jan. 2 hearing before District Judge Mark Johnson. At the hearing, 12 additional felony charges of Theft of Property were lodged, for additional bad checks written from his company to the Nix family, including purchases at the Batesville Stockyards, which the family also owns.
Third Judicial Prosecutor Henry Boyce said he consulted with the Nix family prior to agreeing to a plea bargain with Shepard. The plea was one that the family felt was mutually beneficial and gave them the best chance to recoup their losses. More....