North Bay News

Wine warehouse arson suspect to change guilty plea

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Former Sausalito resident Mark Anderson has decided to change his guilty pleas to a 19-count federal indictment stemming from an arson fire at the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo in 2005, his attorney said.

"He has chosen to withdraw all his pleas, and a hearing is scheduled for May 3," Anderson's attorney Jan Karowsky said.

Anderson pleaded guilty to the 19 charges on Nov. 16, 2009. His sentencing had been postponed a number of times since then while considered changing his plea.

The hearing on his request to withdraw his plea is in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Anderson was indicted March 15, 2007, in connection with a fire on Oct. 12, 2005, that caused more than $200 million in damage and destroyed six million bottles of wine belonging to 92 wineries and 42 private collectors, prosecutors said.

In addition to the arson count, Anderson was indicted on four counts of interstate transportation of fraudulently obtained property, nine counts of mail fraud, one count of using a fictitious name and four counts of tax evasion.

Prosecutors said Anderson rented space in the Wines Central warehouse on Mare Island to store expensive wines for his clients for a monthly fee. Instead of storing the wine, prosecutors allege that Anderson allegedly tried to sell it without his clients' permission for his personal gain.

Anderson started the fire at the 240,000-square-foot warehouse to conceal what he had done, according to prosecutors.

The fire originated in an area of the warehouse where Anderson stored the wine, and he was present around the time the fire started, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment also alleges that Anderson failed to pay $290,623 in federal income taxes between 2001 and 2004, when he earned $808,952.

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fire, arson, wine industry, vallejo, crime, north bay news
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