Court documents say that behind the scenes at one of the busiest stockyards in Arizona, $3 million worth of cattle was stolen from a family by a man they once considered a friend.
The Arizona Daily Star reports the fraud has pushed both families to the brink of financial ruin.
Longtime cattleman and rodeo cowboy Clay Parsons discovered last August that $1.3 million was missing from the accounts of the Marana Stockyards and Livestock Market, which his family has run since the early 1990s.
Court records show the stockyard's line of credit also was drawn down by nearly $2 million.
A trail of fraudulent documents led to Seth Nichols, the stockyard's 29-year-old office manager, who pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud in February and faces up to five years in prison.