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Friday, May 6, 2016

US Marshals corral cattle thief in Mexico

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ron Shepard, the man allegedly responsible for bilking the Ash Flat Livestock Auction and the Nix family out of $1.35 million in cattle, was caught by U.S. Marshals in a modern day wild west roundup.

Not unlike the cattle rustlers featured in many western gun slinger movies, Shepard was a wanted man-- for the Nix crime and many like it in several states.

Shepards' boss, who allegedly wrote over $121,000 in bad checks to the auction, was arrested in June, and is being held on a cash only bond for the amount of the checks.

Shepard was reported missing just days prior to a federal parole revocation hearing in Illinois, and evidently fled to Mexico to avoid apprehension.

The Nix family explained its auctions in Ash Flat and Batesville allow buyers to purchase cattle, and gives a few days to the buyers to pay for the them.

Melanie Billingsley said her family has used a system of trust for years, and the family had befriended Shepard during the four years he bought cattle at the auction.

Since the bad checks were discovered, the family has also learned that Shepard served time in prison for fraud, and is currently on federal parole, which is in the process of being revoked. Shepard's past conviction was for wire fraud involving a scheme to purchase cattle without paying for them.

On March 27, Pierce told Marion, Ill. authorities that he was Shepard's boss, and called to inform them that he had found Shepard's truck abandoned at the sale barn where he worked buying and selling cattle. The report indicates the truck was still running, with Shepard's cell phone inside.

Shepard, 36, had been on the run for two months when U.S. Marshals apprehended him on July 10 in Mexico.

In addition to his crime in Arkansas, Shepard is wanted in Florida for stealing more than $180,000 in 4-H calves from children. Shepard left the Florida counties where he is wanted with Fair Boards over $150,000 in debt.

His crimes do not stop there. Shepard is also wanted in connection with between $4-6 million in cattle thefts, as well as being wanted for an Illinois parole violation for bank fraud, the charge that originally put him in prison in 2004.

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts spoke with Shepard's parole officer, Chris Origlyosso, on July 10 regarding possible extradition to Arkansas for an upcoming arraignment on the local charges.

Counts said Shepard was brought back into the United States on July 10, and is being held in Houston where he was arraigned July 11.

Shepard is currently in the custody of U.S. Marshals. He will be brought back to Illinois on his federal parole violation charges, and likely sent back to prison. The sheriff said it may be a few weeks before he can be brought to Sharp County for his first court appearance on the local charges.

Shepard is also wanted in Kentucky and Texas. Despite his cross country crime spree, Counts said there have been no federal charges filed on the case.

Counts filed a detainer with the prosecutor's office on July 10 to secure Shepard's court appearance.

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