An Independence business owner charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit arson against a rival business and another person’s house was arrested last week in St. Joseph following a child-custody dispute involving one of the alleged victims.

William “Bill” Joseph Reneau, 41, of Overland Park was charged Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City. He owns Gold Rush Exchange, 13700 East U.S. 40.

According to court documents, Reneau allegedly hired others to damage another Independence business, Bobby Jackson’s Trading, 302 E. 23rd St., a gold-buying business operated by a former employee of Reneau, in July and August 2017 and again this month. He also hired others to burn down a house owned by his wife’s ex-husband.

Reneau allegedly paid someone $800 to damage the Bobby Jackson’s Trading building. That person backed a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee into the front of the business, damaging the front door and windows on July 17, 2017. Independence Police later found the vehicle unoccupied and still running with evidence from the damaged building still attached to the vehicle. Damages to the business were later estimated at $10,000.

On Aug. 4, 2017, court documents say, Reneau’s co-conspirator was paid another $800 to set fire to Bobby Jackson’s Trading, a blaze that caused approximately $5,000 in damages.

The owner of Bobby Jackson’s said he worked for Reneau for about 1½ years, then left in 2014 to open his own business. He then sold gold to Reneau sometimes, then started to believe Reneau was taking advantage of him, so he stopped doing business with him and set up his own account with a Riverside business that melts gold down.

Reneau also paid $500 to another person earlier this month to burn an Independence house owned by his wife’s ex-husband, authorities say. Investigators found a set of keys to a Pontiac G6 inside the burned home.

Police later found the vehicle and found the driver’s license of the co-conspirator inside. That person told police he had been paid by Reneau to set fire to the house and had burned his legs and arm and lost his car keys while setting the fire.

That person said he only agreed to set the fire because the store manager at Gold Rush Exchange, who essentially served as a middleman for Reneau, threatened to turn in the man for selling stolen gold to Reneau’s business previously.

That co-conspirator also told police that Reneau had hired him to again set fire to Bobby Jackson’s Trading Company. The conspirator said he poured gasoline on the ground outside the business and on the roof but was “spooked” and did not light the fire.

Independence detectives set up a sale of purportedly stolen jewelry from that person to the store manager last Friday and then arrested the manager in the Gold Rush Exchange parking lot soon afterward.

The store manager said Reneau knew nobody lived at the house that was set on fire, as the owner lives in St. Joseph with his girlfriend. That owner, who was preparing to sell the house, had recently filed a motion against his ex-wife (Reneau’s current wife) for temporary custody of their two daughters. The motion was denied a few days later, and the case is scheduled for trial in November.

Reneau and his wife drove up to a small school in St. Joseph on Aug. 23, claiming a daughter had been “kidnapped,” was illegally enrolled at the school and that they had court papers for custody. He recorded the incident on Facebook Live.

The ex-husband of the house owner’s girlfriend arrived to pick up his child from the school and saw Reneau, who was holding up his smartphone toward the man. On the video, Reneau claimed the man tried to grab him before Reneau head-butted him in the nose, causing it to bleed.

Police later arrived and arrested Reneau for assault – with the video still rolling – and at the same time the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department arrested him for harassment.

Investigators learned Reneau had apparently been using multiple phones and email accounts to send threatening messages to the wife’s ex-husband and that man’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s business client. The girlfriend filed three separate harassment reports.

Reneau has been in prison after being convicted in federal court for drug distribution. He also has a protective order against him from an attorney working for Sildapa Designs in Lenexa, Kansas in an ongoing civil case against Reneau. In addition to the federal charge, Reneau has a fourth-degree assault charge in Buchanan County for head-butting the man.