The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 24, 2013

Sarcoxie man sentenced for trying to give feds slip as part of grease scheme

From staff reports

SARCOXIE, Mo. — Jesse Arnold, 46, of Sarcoxie, was sentenced on Friday to one year and one day in federal prison for arranging financial transactions in such a way that he could evade federal reporting requirements as part of a scheme to sell stolen cooking oil for recycling.

Arnold, who was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple, must also forfeit to the government $207,817 that was seized from his business bank account. He pleaded guilty to the charge in federal court on Dec. 18, 2012.

 Arnold operated 4 States Grease Co. in Sarcoxie, a collection point for spent cooking oil that had been used in restaurants. The oil can be recycled into biodegradable diesel fuel and animal food products and because of that, 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 who obtained it from businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

According to a statement issued by Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, the drivers sold the spent cooking oil to Arnold under circumstances that would have caused a reasonable person to know it had been stolen. Arnold and 4 States then sold the spent cooking oil to Brooks Grease Service, and had it transported to the company plant in Tulsa, Okla., for processing.

During this time, Arnold deliberately and knowingly structured withdrawals from his business checking account in order to avoid federal reporting requirements that could bring unwanted scrutiny to 4 States. He did that by withdrawing amounts of money 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 keep 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.