Independence Man Indicted for Multi-million Dollar Conspiracy to Sell Stolen Catalytic Converters

An Independence, Missouri, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for selling millions of dollars in stolen catalytic converters to companies in Missouri, Texas, and Louisiana.

James Spick, 56, was charged in a 26-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Tuesday, Feb. 8. The indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Spick’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Spick, the owner of J&J Recycling in Independence, is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines since Jan. 1, 2018, and 25 counts of transporting stolen property across state lines.

In his salvage business, Spick primarily buys and resells catalytic converters rather than other automotive parts or recyclable items. Catalytic converters convert toxic gases and pollutants from internal combustion engines into less-toxic pollutants. Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Stolen catalytic converters have value because of the precious metals, which can be extracted from the converters.

Beginning in at least 2014, Spick bought catalytic converters at his business from individuals whom he paid in cash. The cash payments attracted thieves, the indictment says, particularly drug addicts. Spick resold the catalytic converters to companies in Missouri, Texas, and Louisiana. The Texas and Louisiana companies processed the catalytic converters to extract the precious metals.

Over a four-year period from Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2021, the indictment says, Spick received over $11 million from the sale of catalytic converters.

According to the indictment, Spick withdrew almost $2.5 million in cash from his bank accounts to buy catalytic converters from 2018 to 2021. From Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2021, Spick allegedly sold catalytic converters, including stolen catalytic converters, to a Kansas City, Mo., scrap company for an approximate total of $3,621,791, and to a Lee’s Summit, Mo., scrap company for an approximate total of $206,084.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Mahoney and Nicholas Heberle. It was investigated by the Lee’s Summit, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Patrick Norris

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