Six defendants from Missouri plead guilty to transporting stolen catalytic converters across state lines

Catalytic Converter Thefts News Graphic

Six Springfield, Mo., and Rogersville, Mo., residents have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a scheme to transport tens of thousands of stolen catalytic converters across state lines as part of a multi-million-dollar business.

Evan Marshall, 24, of Rogersville, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to one count of transporting stolen property across state lines.

Six of the seven defendants indicted in this case have now pleaded guilty. Co-defendants Cody Ryder, 30, Enx Khoshaba, 29, Leslie Ice, 37, and Eric Kaltenbach, 37, all of Springfield, and Camren Joseph Davis, 25, of Rogersville, have pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines.

By pleading guilty, Marshall admitted that he transported stolen catalytic converters, valued at $1 million or more, across state lines from December 2019 to October 2021. Marshall also admitted that he bought tens of thousands of stolen catalytic converters directly from his co-defendants and from other thieves, and sold the stolen catalytic converters for a total of approximately $1 million.

Marshall began selling the catalytic converters to a company in Mountain Home, Arkansas, in the fall of 2019. At that time, Marshall would purchase junk vehicles and sell the vehicles’ parts, including the catalytic converters. In the late fall of 2019, the owners of the Mountain Home company asked Marshall if he would begin purchasing catalytic converters in southwest Missouri and sell to them exclusively. Marshall agreed to do so; in return, they regularly provided Marshall with cash so that Marshall had the funds to purchase a higher volume of catalytic converters. They also provided Marshall with a list of valuable catalytic converters. By December 2019, Marshall had mostly ceased buying junk vehicles and scrapping them out for parts and instead began purchasing already-detached catalytic converters from scrap yards and individual sellers.

By January 2020, the owners of the Mountain Home company were wiring Marshall hundreds of thousands of dollars on a monthly basis so that Marshall could purchase a higher volume of detached catalytic converters.

By December 2019, Marshall had also enlisted Davis to work for him and another company, which Marshall also established in December 2019. Davis’s job was to purchase catalytic converters using cash that Marshall provided him. During that time period, Marshall provided Davis with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to purchase catalytic converters on Marshall’s behalf. As part of the arrangement, Davis exclusively sold the catalytic converters he purchased to Marshall. On at least one occasion, Marshall provided Davis with $40,000 in cash for the purchase of catalytic converters on Marshall’s behalf.

Davis admitted that he bought at least 1,500 stolen catalytic converters from various thieves and sold them to Marshall for a total of approximately $250,000. In July 2020, a Springfield Police Department detective contacted Davis regarding his purchase of catalytic converters from individuals known to be thieves. Despite being put on notice that he was purchasing catalytic converters from thieves, Davis continued to purchase stolen catalytic converters.

In February 2021, Marshall enlisted Ryder to work for him and his company. As with Davis, Ryder’s job was to purchase catalytic converters using cash that Marshall provided him. From February 2021 through October 2021, Marshall provided Ryder with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to purchase catalytic converters on Marshall’s behalf. As part of the arrangement, Ryder exclusively sold the catalytic converters he purchased to Marshall. On at least one occasion, Marshall provided Ryder with $10,000 in cash for the purchase of catalytic converters on Marshall’s behalf.

Ryder admitted that he bought at least 1,500 stolen catalytic converters from thieves and sold them to Marshall for an aggregate amount of approximately $250,000.

Many of the catalytic converters that Davis and Ryder purchased with the cash Marshall provided them were stolen, and Marshall knew at the time that many of them were stolen. Marshall paid Davis and Ryder an agreed-upon percentage amount over their purchase price for the catalytic converters, less the amount of cash Marshall had fronted them.

From December 2019 through October 2021, in addition to utilizing Davis and Ryder as buyers of stolen catalytic converters, Marshall also purchased stolen catalytic converters directly from thieves. In July 2020, a Springfield, Mo., police detective contacted Marshall regarding the purchase of catalytic converters from individuals known to be thieves. Despite being put on notice that he was purchasing stolen catalytic converters, Marshall continued to purchase stolen catalytic converters, including from at least one of the individuals identified by the detective.

Marshall admitted that he knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters from co-defendants Davis, Ryder, Ice, Kaltenbach, Khoshaba, and at least six other thieves. Marshall transported and sold almost all of the catalytic converters, including the stolen catalytic converters, to the owners of the Mountain Home business.

Marshall, Davis, Ryder, and others loaded the catalytic converters, including the stolen catalytic converters, into bins that were placed on trailers at Marshall’s residence. They hauled the trailers, which each contained between 800 and 1,200 catalytic converters, many of which were stolen, from Rogersville to Mountain Home. Marshall transported catalytic converters from Rogersville to Mountain Home approximately every two weeks from December 2019 through October 2021.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Marshall must forfeit to the government $125,651, 33 rifles, 20 scopes, six shotguns, 26 handguns, a Glock sub conversion kit, eight ammunition magazines, a 2011 Ram 3500 one-ton pickup, a 2004 Dodge Ram, a flatbed trailer, two 42-foot gooseneck flatbed trailers, a 16-foot livestock trailer, a 2021 Load N Go utility trailer, a 2007 car hauler trailer, a Volkswagen dune buggy, two Harley Davidson motorcycles, a 2012 Keystone 5th wheel camper, a Caterpillar skid steer, a 2019 Honda Talon SXS 1000 side by side, a 2016 Polaris RZR side by side, a Polaris Ranger 4×4,  and 191 catalytic converters, all of which was seized by law enforcement. Marshall must also pay the government a money judgment in an amount to be determined by the court at sentencing.

Khoshaba admitted that he stole at least 60 catalytic converters from victims in Springfield and elsewhere between March 2021 and October 2021. Khoshaba then sold the stolen catalytic converters to co-conspirators for a total of at least $15,000.

Ice admitted that he stole at least 50 catalytic converters from victims in Springfield and elsewhere between October 2020 and March 2021. Ice then sold the stolen catalytic converters to co-conspirators for a total of at least $20,000.

Kaltenbach admitted that he stole at least 80 catalytic converters from victims in Springfield and elsewhere between January 2021 and September 2021. Ice then sold the stolen catalytic converters to co-conspirators for a total of at least $20,000.

When Khoshaba first began stealing catalytic converters, Ryder drove him around the Springfield area and pointed out to Khoshaba places to steal catalytic converters, such as a truck lot, as well as the types of vehicles that had valuable catalytic converters. Marshall provided Ice with a list of vehicles, by year, make, and model, that had valuable catalytic converters so that he could target specific vehicles from which to steal catalytic converters.

Marshall provided Ice with blades for the reciprocating saws that he used to cut the catalytic converters from his victims’ vehicles. Marshall also paid Ice’s bond in January 2021 so that Ice would be released from custody and continue to steal catalytic converters.

Khoshaba, Ice, and Kaltenbach stole catalytic converters by cutting the catalytic converter from the victim’s vehicle’s exhaust system using a battery-powered reciprocating saw. After they cut the catalytic converter from the victim’s vehicle, they sent a photograph of the stolen catalytic converter to Marshall, Davis, or Ryder by text message. They used the numbers imprinted on the catalytic converter to value the stolen catalytic converter, then responded by texting the price they would pay for the stolen catalytic converter.

In July 2021, Kaltenbach stole a catalytic converter from a victim’s car in Rogersville and was captured on surveillance footage, which was published on social media.  When Kaltenbach went to sell the stolen catalytic converter, Marshall would not purchase it because he had seen the surveillance footage and was upset with Kaltenbach for stealing a catalytic converter in the town in which he lived. Marshall instructed Kaltenbach to not steal catalytic converters in Rogersville; after this incident, Kaltenbach did not steal catalytic converters from vehicles in Rogersville but continued to steal catalytic converters from victims’ vehicles in Springfield. At times, Kaltenbach sold five or six stolen catalytic converters per transaction.

Under federal statutes, Marshall is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Each of the other six defendants is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shannon T. Kempf, Megan W. Chalifoux, and Nhan D. Nguyen. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Christian County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Webster County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri Department of Revenue and the Greene County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney.