sarcoxie man pleads guilty to illegal financial transactions
in scheme to sell cooking oil stolen from restaurants
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Sarcoxie, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to structuring financial transactions in order to evade federal reporting requirements as part of a scheme to sell stolen cooking oil that was intended for recycling.
Jesse Arnold, 46, of Sarcoxie, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to the charge contained in a federal information. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Arnold must forfeit to the government $207,817 that was seized from his business bank account.
Arnold operated 4 States Grease Company, a collection facility for spent cooking oil, located in Sarcoxie. Spent cooking oil is the byproduct of either vegetable or animal fat oil used by restaurants. The oil can be repurposed for use as biodegradable diesel fuel and animal food products, and therefore has value in the open market. Because of this value, restaurants will contract with companies to sell their spent cooking oil and allow the companies to take it and recycle it.
Arnold, who directed 4 States from 2009 to November 2011, admitted that he had reason to believe he was buying spent cooking oil that had been stolen by various drivers. These drivers obtained the stolen cooking oil from businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The drivers sold the spent cooking oil to Arnold under circumstances that would have caused a reasonable person to know that it had been stolen. Arnold and 4 States then sold the spent cooking oil to Brooks Grease Service, and had it transported to Brooks’s factory in Tulsa for processing.
During this time, in order to avoid federal reporting requirements that could bring unwanted scrutiny to 4 States, Arnold deliberately and knowingly structured withdrawals from his business checking account. Arnold withdrew some or most of the money in order to purchase the stolen spent cooking oil. Arnold made numerous withdrawals on consecutive days that were individually less than $10,000, but which totaled more than $10,000 when added together.
Under federal law, banks must file a currency transaction report for any financial transaction over $10,000. The crime of structuring occurs when a person, in order to knowingly avoid the financial institution from filing a currency transaction report, breaks up the transaction into smaller components that are less than $10,000.
All of the cash withdrawals from Jan. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2011, were done by checks written to “Cash” and signed by Arnold. Many of the cash withdrawals were done on successive banking days and were for $9,000 for each withdrawal. There were no single cash withdrawals over $10,000. The parties stipulate that the most readily provable amount that the defendant was responsible for structuring was $243,000.
Under federal statutes, Arnold is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigations, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol the Crawford County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.