Cattle thief and one-time federal fugitive enters guilty plea, ending 6-year saga
Ronald Ryan Shepard Jr., 41, is finally heading to a Texas prison. On May 18, Shepard pled guilty to three counts of Theft of Livestock, third-degree felonies, in the Eighth District Court of Rains County.
Shepard first caught the attention of Texas authorities in August 2011 after he failed to make prompt payment for cattle purchased from seven East Texas auction markets. TSCRA Special Ranger Larry Hand began an 11-month investigation, which ultimately led to Shepard’s indictment. However, in March 2012, he faked his own kidnapping and went on the run. It was revealed that multiple states had, or were in the process of issuing, arrest warrants for Shepard. He was also wanted by federal authorities after violating his federally-supervised release on bank fraud charges.
Following his disappearance, TSCRA’s Operation Cow Thief program offered a reward for information on Shepard’s whereabouts. Special Ranger Hand also solicited the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, the nation’s oldest law enforcement agency. Information obtained by TSCRA was passed on to federal authorities and was vital in locating Shepard. It was discovered that he had fled to Mexico and was hiding out in Mazatlán, where he was subsequently arrested and extradited by U.S. Marshals in July 2012.
Upon his return to the U.S., Shepard faced indictments in a myriad of federal and state courts. He has since pleaded guilty to federal or state livestock related charges in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas.
Texas was the final jurisdiction to receive custody of Shepard. As a result of his guilty plea, he was remanded to the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to serve 10 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay court costs, attorney’s fees and more than $125,000 in restitution to his victim in Texas. As a part of the plea agreement he also agreed to pay restitution of $200,000 to a victim in Florida in lieu of extradition and criminal prosecution in that state.
“I am glad to finally have a resolution to this long, drawn out saga,” said Hand. “I cannot thank enough the huge array of local, state and federal agencies who collaborated to track down and prosecute Shepard for his numerous crimes. I hope any potential future offenders will take note of the consequences.”
TSCRA and Special Ranger Hand would like to especially thank fellow Special Rangers Jimmy Dickson and Toney Hurley, U.S. Probation Officer Chris Origliosso, U.S. Attorney’s Office Investigator Dave Walker, Rains County Criminal District Attorney Robert Vititow, Rains County Sheriff Randy Traylor and the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance.