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Business arson brings federal sentence

By The Examiner staff

An Independence business owner will spend more than six years in federal prison for arson against a rival business and a home owned by his wife’s ex-husband. 

William “Bill” Joseph Reneau, 44, of Overland Park, Kansas pleaded guilty last August to one count each of arson and felony gun possession, stemming from charges two years earlier. He was sentenced this week in federal court to six years and six months in prison without parole. The judge also ordered Reneau to pay $167,000 in restitution to victims.

Reneau owned Gold Rush Exchange, which had locations on U.S. 40 and U.S. 24 in Independence.

According to court documents, he admitted that he hired people to damage and then destroy a rival Independence business, Bobby Jackson’s Trading on 23rd Street, in the summer of 2018. A co-defendant, 47-year-old Randall Yeager of Independence, drove a vehicle into the building, and weeks later set fire to the building. Independence Police found the stolen vehicle, unoccupied but still running and with evidence from the damaged building still attached. After the fire, police found apparent containers used to bring gasoline to the building. 

Yeager pleaded guilty and last June was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison.

According to court documents, Reneau also paid for another man to have an unoccupied Independence home burned down in August 2018. That man dropped his car keys in the home while setting the fire, and police tracked the keys to the man’s vehicle. That man told police he’d been hired as a Gold Rush Exchange manager for the job, lest he get turned in for selling stolen gold to Gold Rush.

Reneau admitted that he kept a 12-gauge shotgun underneath a computer at Gold Rush. He had a prior felony conviction and federal prison sentence for drug distribution and money laundering, making it illegal for him to possess a gun.