Independence Business Owner Sentenced for Arson of Rival Business

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – An Independence, Missouri, business owner has been sentenced in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to commit arson against a rival business as well as a residence, and for illegally possessing a firearm.

William “Bill” Joseph Reneau, 44, of Overland Park, Kansas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Tuesday, Feb. 2, to six years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Reneau to pay $167,085 in restitution to his victims.

On Aug. 5, 2020, Reneau pleaded guilty to one count of arson and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Reneau was the owner of Gold Rush Exchange, with locations on 40 Highway and 24 Highway in Independence.

Reneau admitted that he hired others to destroy an Independence residence and a business, Bobby Jackson’s Trading, a gold-buying business operated by a former employee of Reneau’s at 302 E. 23rd Street in Independence. Reneau hired others to damage Bobby Jackson’s Trading in July and August of 2017, then to burn the business as well as a residence owned by his wife’s ex-husband in August 2018.

Reneau also admitted that he kept a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun underneath a computer at The Gold Rush Exchange. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Reneau has prior felony convictions for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, and for aiding and abetting money laundering.

Reneau paid co-defendant Randell Eugene Yeager Jr., 47, of Independence, $800 to damage the Bobby Jackson’s Trading building. On July 17, 2017, Yeager drove a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee into the front of the business, backing into the building and colliding with the front door and the front business windows. The stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee was located later by the Independence Police Department, unoccupied and still running with evidence from the damaged building still attached to the vehicle. The damage was approximately $10,000.

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On Aug. 4, 2017, Yeager set fire to Bobby Jackson’s Trading. During the investigation, investigators located what appeared to be containers that were used to bring gasoline to the business and set the fire near the front doors and windows. The fire caused approximately $5,000 dollars in damage to the exterior and interior of the business. Reneau paid Yeager $800 for setting the fire.

Yeager was sentenced on June 1, 2020, to five years and three months in federal prison without parole.

Reneau also paid $500 to another co-defendant to have an Independence residence, which was unoccupied, burned down on Aug. 13, 2018.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, and the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.