I called up the local chain/discount liquor/beer store here in Houston. After transferring to the beer department, I asked them if I could buy/pay deposit for a keg and if they cared if I ever returned it ... Their answer was yes you can pay just deposit price for an empty keg, and no we don't care if you return it.
I paid $45 deposit which is probably upper end of street value, but of course it's the deposit prices that drive street value at least in the homebrew circles (maybe not for scrap).
As far as I'm concerned, that takes away any guilt that you read about for keg deposit cases. On the other hand, the keg does say "Property of BIG BEER COMPANY*" (name cut off with keggle conversion ... so I don't know whose it was ;-)