Accused cattle rustler sentenced to federal prison - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Accused cattle rustler sentenced to federal prison

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Ron Shepard Ron Shepard
Auction barn owners who once called him friend were now looking for justice. Auction barn owners who once called him friend were now looking for justice.

A local cattle buyer accused of stealing millions of dollars was sentenced to two years in federal prison Thursday.

A judge in Benton, Ill. sentenced Ron Shepard for violating terms of his probation in a 2004 Florida conviction involving stolen money related to cattle.

Authorities in three states want to prosecute him once the federal case wraps up.

A Texas attorney has filed a civil suit on behalf of Shepard's alleged victims, including the owners of the Patton Junction Auction Barn.

When Ron Shepard walked into Federal Court Thursday morning in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and chains, he saw several familiar faces.

Not family though, but auction barn owners who once called him friend, and were now looking for justice.

"We were happy to see him right there", says Wayne Sharrock. The owner of the Patton Junction Auction Barn traveled to Benton, Illinois to see his former friend Ron Shepard faces a federal judge.

"He never turned and looked at us one time", Sharrock said. Did it surprise you? "Yeah it was," said Sharrock. "I don't believe I could have sat there and not turned around and looked."

Sharrock sat in the courtroom with Arkansas auction barn owner Mike Nix.

"Never, never looked at us," Nix said. Did you want him to? "Yes, it would have been good," Nix replied. Why? "Well, just to see that we're still alive."

Sharrock and Nix have followed Shepard's case since the day he went missing. Shepard was tracked to Mexico in July. He appeared in court Thursday, accused of violating his probation on a 2004 wire fraud conviction involving cattle.

Shepard admitted to several traffic offenses, and not to allegations he stole millions in cattle from at least four states.

But, one of the cattle rustling cases against Shepard did play a role in sending him back to prison.

In August of 2011, Shepard called Texas Ranger Larry Hand. Hand wanted to talk to Shepard about more than $600,000 worth of missing cattle. When Shepard's probation officer asked him about those calls last December, Shepard denied making them. The judge found him guilty of that false statement and sentenced him to two years back behind bars.

Shepard received another hit from the Lone Star state, in the form of a civil suit hand-delivered by Texas Attorney John Key.

"Mr. Shepard waited about two months from the time he was released from the Bureau of Prisons before he started stealing cattle again", Key said. "And you saw his demeanor in the courtroom. He didn't have a lot to say."

How big are you alleging this scheme to be? How much money?

"Three million plus", Key responded. "No question."

As Shepard's hearing wrapped up, Heartland News learned there's about $95,000 in recovered cattle money that now sits in a federal account.

Does some of that money belong to you?

"I'm pretty sure it does," Sherrock answered.

Ron Shepard will stay in federal custody at the Franklin County Jail for the next few weeks as the Bureau of Prisons decides where to send him.

In the meantime, Attorney John Key says he plans to name more of what he called Shepard's co-conspirators soon, as he adds to that lawsuit.

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