TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona rancher has been sentenced to nearly 3 ½ years in federal prison for his role in embezzlement and wire fraud schemes.

Prosecutors said 62-year-old Donald Hugh Nichols of Coolidge received a 41-month prison term after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Tucson.

Between 2013 and 2017, prosecutors said Nichols engaged in a scheme to steal cattle from the Marana Stockyards and Livestock Market, an entity which hosts weekly livestock auctions for Arizona ranchers.

As a cattle broker for third-party buyers, Nichols also illegally bid on his own cattle without the buyers’ knowledge or consent.

Prosecutors said some of the cattle that Nichols purchased on behalf of third-party buyers were stolen from Marana Stockyards.

As a result of these fraud schemes, Marana Stockyards lost more than $1 million.

Nichols’ son, Seth Nichols, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the schemes and was sentenced in December 2018 to 60 months in federal prison.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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