An Independence business owner faces federal charges after allegedly conspiring to commit arson of a rival’s business and home.
William “Bill” Joseph Reneau, 41, of Overland Park was charged in federal court in Kansas City Wednesday with one count of conspiracy to commit arson.
Reneau owns Gold Rush Exchange, which has two locations in Independence.
According to court documents, Reneau allegedly participated in a conspiracy to destroy a home and another Independence business, Bobby Jackson’s Trading, 302 E. 23rd St., a gold-buying business operated by a former employee of Reneau.
Reneau allegedly hired others to damage Bobby Jackson’s Trading in July and August of 2017, then this month to burn the business as well as a house owned by his wife’s ex-husband.
According to court documents, Reneau allegedly paid somone $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.
Reneau allegedly also paid $500 to another person to burn the rival’s Independence home earlier this month. Investigators found a set of keys to a Pontiac G6 car 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.
The person who set the fire said he only agreed to do it because the store manager at Gold Rush Exchange threatened to turn him in 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 Reneau last Friday and then arrested Reneau in the Gold Rush Exchange parking lot immediately afterward.