- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Ron Shepard who went on the lam after money meant to go to youth who sold steers at the Suwannee River Youth Livestock Show and Sale, was captured in a northern Mexico fishing town by the U.S. Marshals Service International Investigations Branch and returned to the U.S. on Tuesday.
Shepard and a business partner, Jeremy Pierce who has been jailed since April in Illinois, are suspects in a multi-state cattle scam where Shepard bought animals on a handshake deal, sold them to brokers and did not deliver money to the sellers and brokers. Both men ar natives of Trenton.
The U.S. Marshals Office in Gainesville said in a press release that it developed the information that Shepard, who had been in the Tri-County area in late April, d fled the country and was in Mexico. The Marshals Service worked with authorities in Mexico to capture him.
Shepard was extradited to the U.S. on Tuesday and taken to a Benton, Ill., federal detention facility. He will come before a federal judge in connection with a violation of probation on wire fraud conviction in an earlier cattle scam in Florida.
The Levy County Sheriff's Office is in the process of filing detainers with the federal government to extradite Shepard to Levy County where he and Pierce are wanted on a charge of scheme to defraud and each have a $1 million bond.
The Suwannee River Youth Livestock Sow and Sale, operated by the Suwannee River Fair Association, took a huge financial hit when Shepard and Jeremy Pierce failed to deliver the proceeds of a cattle sale to Larry Lindsey, broker for the fair's cattle sale. Fair President Loran Brookins promised and made good the payment to children for all of their hard work in raising the livestock for the show. But the association had to use all its cash reserves and borrow money from Perkins State Bank to pay the 4-H and FFA members from Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
The two are accused of running an operation where they took delivery of 146 steers from the Suwannee River Fair on behalf of a reputable buyer, Lindsey Cattle Company Inc. of Bell, on March 21.
But a day earlier, Shepard had a check cut for $200,000. 21 for the steers by United Producers Inc. of Goreville, Ill., a reputable cattle broker.
Shepard arranged for three trucks to pick up the cattle at Fanning Springs and deliver them to UPI where he personally picked up the check before disappearing, according to Levy Sheriff's Office Investogator Jimmy Anderson.
Shepard was reported missing by his family and Pierce, his business partner in Brookfield Cattle Co. Shepard's wife Katrina also owns a small portion of the company.
Pierce is the man on a bank video recording shown depositing the check for the Fair cattle into an account for another business, Brookport Cattle that is owned by Pierce and another man.
Normally, the check would have gone back to Lindsey and the Fair to pay the 4-H and FFA youth.
Fair Association President Loran Brookins said the Fair has sold its cattle to Lindsey Cattle for four years and did not have a problem prior to this. "We had no suspicions. He was the high bidder. He got 'em, we always got our money within two weeks of the sale."
Shepard was sought by law enforcement — in addition to Florida — in Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas and Illinois. He is a suspect in cattle thefts that total between $6 and $10 million. The scheme involved promising to buy large numbers of cattle, taking the cattle, selling the cattle to stockyards or other buyers, and then keeping all of the money and fleeing the state without paying the original owners.