Man admits he was hired by gold trader to burn down rival’s store over personal grudge

An Independence man admitted in federal court Thursday that he was hired by the owner of a gold-buying business to try to burn down a rival’s store in 2017.

Randell Eugene Yeager Jr. , 46, pleaded guilty in the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri to participating in a conspiracy to damage property by arson.

Yeager admitted that he was hired on two occasions to damage Bobby Jackson’s Trading, a gold-buying business at 302 E. 23rd Street in Independence.

The business owner accused of hiring Yeager is William “Bill” Josephn Reneau, owner of Gold Rush Exchange, which has two locations in Independence. Reneau was charged last year with conspiracy to commit arson. The case is pending.

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William Reneau, 41 Buchanan County Sheriff's Office

According to federal prosecutors, Reneau wanted the arson carried out to settle a personal grievance with the owner of Bobby Jackson’s, who was a former employee of Reneau.

Reneau also was accused of paying someone to damage the home of his wife’s ex-husband.


How we did this story

The Star received a news release about Yeager’s guilty plea Thursday from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. The newspaper had previously covered the arson case against Reneau when he was charged in 2018.

In court, Yeager admitted that he was paid $800 to damage Bobby Jackson’s on July 17, 2017. He drove a stolen Jeep to the store and backed into the building, causing $10,000 in damage, according to prosecutors.

Yeager also admitted that he was paid $800 to set fire the store less than a month later, on Aug. 4, 2017. Yeager used containers of gasoline to set fire to the front of the business, which caused about $5,000 in damage.

Yeager was arrested Nov. 24, 2018. Prosecutors said he was in possession of a Heckler & Koch 9mm handgun and .936 grams of methamphetamine.

By federal law, Yeager could face 20 years in prison.

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