Seth Nichols, who pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud in U.S. District Court after he was caught last year stealing from his employer, will serve a maximum sentence of five years in prison and must pay $3 million in restitution fees. He was sentenced on Tuesday, Dec. 18 by Judge Cindy Jorgenson.
From 2013 to 2017 Nichols was the office manager of the family-owned Marana Stockyards and Livestock Market, located at 14901 W. Kirby Hughes Road. The business is a livestock auction that specializes in selling Arizona-raised cattle.
Nichols was hired by the owner and a personal friend, Clay Parsons, to manage the business’ financial operations. Nichols used this opportunity to fake bank records in an attempt to make it seem like the stockyard had good financial standings. But behind-the-scenes, he was buying the cattle under his own personal company name and reselling it to other buyers without reimbursing his employer, pocketing the money for nearly four years.
The Arizona Daily Star reported the Parsons family discovered the fraud in August 2017 when their accounts were missing $1.3 million. Their business’ line of credit was down nearly $2 million, putting the family in financial crisis.
Nichols’ father, Donald, was indicted that same month in connection with the fraud of over $1 million in cattle sales at the Parsons’ auctions. His federal trial will begin in February 2019.
On their company website, the Parsons family gave a statement to concerned community members who have seen the news. They wrote:
“Although it has been difficult at times for our family we have kept our focus on the business as well as each other. Through the struggle, we have timely honored each and every obligation to our buyers, sellers, employees, vendors and all other parties… Here at Marana Stockyards we embrace the spirit of the Arizona rancher ‘When the desert gets dry you keep working and pray for rain.’”