Former St. Clair County Sheriff Pleads Guilty to Stealing Recovered Property
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the former sheriff of St. Clair County, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to stealing property recovered in criminal cases and to selling a stolen firearm.
Ronald E. Snodgrass, 47, of El Dorado, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.
Snodgrass served three terms as the elected sheriff in St. Clair County, from Jan. 1, 2001, through Dec. 31, 2012. He lost his bid for reelection in 2012. During Snodgrass’s tenure, the St. Clair County Jail handled more than 100 federal inmates for a fee. This agreement with the U.S. Marshal Service provided St. Clair County with the majority of its income.
By pleading guilty today, Snodgrass admitted that he illegally took possession of a John Deere zero turn mower, which was recovered stolen property. The owner of the mower had reported it being stolen on Nov. 4, 2008, and received a payment of $13,638 from Chubb Insurance Company. The mower was recovered by the sheriff’s department on Aug. 14, 2009.
According to today’s plea agreement, the mower was in good condition and worth more than $5,000.
On Sept. 2, 2009, Snodgrass contacted Chubb Insurance and claimed the mower had a tow bill and storage fees of $525. At that time, the stolen mower was in the impound lot and was being held as evidence in a criminal case. There was no legal authority for Snodgrass to charge storage fees for items recovered as stolen property. Snodgrass told Chubb Insurance he would be interested in purchasing the mower in exchange for taking care of the tow bill, storage fees and payment of $500 to Chubb.
On Sept. 3, 2009, Snodgrass contacted Chubb Insurance and said he would like to purchase the mower. At that time, the insurance company informed him that the mower would have to be assessed for salvage. On the same day, Snodgrass contacted Chubb Insurance again and claimed the tow and storage bill of the mower was now “over $600”; he offered to take care of the tow, storage bill fees and pay Chubb Insurance an additional $500 for the stolen mower. Chubb Insurance accepted the offer from Snodgrass.
Snodgrass admitted today that there were never any storage fees. Under state law, any unclaimed property should have been sold at a sheriff’s auction. Instead of disposing of the mower through a public sale or auction, Snodgrass kept the mower for his personal use on his farm.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Snodgrass must forfeit the John Deere mower and a 2009 Polaris Ranger UTV to the government. The July 22, 2014, federal indictment alleges that Snodgrass illegally obtained the Polaris Ranger on Sept. 29, 2012.
Under federal statutes, Snodgrass is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. 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 Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the FBI, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the St. Clair, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.