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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Man accused of cattle thefts extradited back to county

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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Ron Shepard, the alleged cattle thief who bilked the Ash Flat Livestock Auction and Batesville Stockyards out of over $1.35 million dollars in cattle was extradited back to Sharp County Jan. 3 from the Federal Prison in Michigan where he was serving time for a parole violation after being captured in Mexico last year.
Nearly a year after pulling out of the Ash Flat Livestock Auction with a load of purchased cattle, Ron Shepard was extradited back to Sharp County on Jan. 2 to face charges of stealing the cattle and bilking the Ash Flat Livestock Auction out of $1.35 million.

Shepard was brought from a federal prison in Michigan to face the original charge, as well as others in Sharp County. Shepard was being held in the prison for parole violation stemming from a 2004 wire fraud conviction.

Shepard joined his employee and co-conspirator Jeremy Pierce in the Sharp County Detention Center, although the men are being held in separate areas of the jail to keep them from communicating with one another.

Shepard's bond was set at $400,000 at a Jan. 2 bond 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.

The Florida man went missing last year just days prior to a federal parole revocation hearing in Illinois. On March 27, 2012, Pierce told Marion, Ill. authorities that he was Shepard's boss, and called to inform them that he found Sherpard'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. At first, many suspected foul play in Shepard's disappearance. It was later discovered he had fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution. After being on the run for nearly two months, U.S. Marshals apprehended him on July 10 in Mexico and he was arraigned in Houston the next day before being taken to Illionois where his original wire fraud charges, which also involved buying cattled with bad checks, were filed. He was then put back in prison in Michegan to serve the remainder of his sentence for the 2004 charges.

In addition to his crimes in Arkansas, Shepard is also facing charges in Florida for stealing more than $180,000 in 4-H and FFA calves from children. Shepard left the Florida counties where he is wanted leaving 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 in other states across the nation.

United States Marshals arrested Shepard's co-conspirator, Jeremy Pierce, in Illinois in June, 2012. Pierce allegedly wrote over $121,000 in bad checks to the Nix auction and is currently being held on a cash only bond for the amount of the checks.

Many questioned how a person could get away with so much cattle without paying for them. After Pierces June hearing, the Nix family explained its auctions in Ash Flat and Batesville allow buyers to purchase cattle, and gives them a few days turnaround time to pay for the cattle. Melanie Billingsley explained her family has used a system of trust for years, and the family had befriended Shepard for the four years he bought cattle at the auction before the bad checks.

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts said in a Jan. 3 interview that Shepard will remain in the custody of the Sharp County Detention Center on a $400,000 bond until his March 13 court date. During his Jan. 2 appearance, Public Defender R.T. Starken was appointed to represent Sherpard.



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