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Sarcoxie man gets one year prison for scheme to sell stolen cooking oil

Updated June 24, 2013 - News release from the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri:

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Sarcoxie, Mo., man has been sentenced in federal court for 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, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple on Friday, June 21, 2013 to one year and one day in federal prison without parole. Arnold must also forfeit to the government $207,817 that was seized from his business bank account.

Arnold, who pleaded guilty on Dec. 18, 2012, 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 directed 4 States from 2009 to November 2011. He 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 have stipulated that the most readily provable amount that Arnold was responsible for structuring was $243,000.

This case was 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.

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Posted December 18, 2012:  A Sarcoxie, Missouri man plead guilty today to taking part in a scheme to sell around $243,000 in stolen cooking oil that was intended for recycling.

Jesse Arnold, 46, operated a collection facility in Sarcoxie called 4 States Grease Company and admitted paying for what he believed was stolen cooking oil from various drivers in the Four States to evade reporting requirements.

Arnold wrote checks to "Cash" for $9,000, below the $10,000 amount banks are required to report under federal law.

Arnold faces up to 10 years in prison plus a fine of up to $500,000.

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