U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
For Immediate Release
November 16, 2009
Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood
Docket #: 07-cr-96-LKK
Business Owner Pleads Guilty In Vallejo Arson Of Wines Central Warehouse
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, ATF Special Agent in Charge Stephen Herkins, and IRS Special Agent in Charge Scott O’Briant announced that late this afternoon MARK C. ANDERSON, 61, of Sausalito, pleaded guilty to all 19 charges in an indictment that included one count of arson, four counts of interstate transportation of fraudulently obtained property, nine counts of mail fraud, one count of use of a fictitious name, and four counts of tax evasion stemming from the October 12, 2005 arson of the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, the Vallejo Police Department, the Vallejo Fire Department, and the Sausalito Police Department.
According to Assistant United States Attorney R. Steven Lapham, who is prosecuting the case, the trial was set to commence tomorrow with Deputy Attorney General Peter Williams assisting. Today, ANDERSON admitted that he set fire to the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo, on October 12, 2005, and that he had been embezzling wine from his clients for many years. In pleading guilty to the tax evasion counts ANDERSON also admitted that he failed to report over $800,000 in income from the sale of the embezzled wine and therefore evaded over $290,000 in taxes.
ANDERSON operated a business called Sausalito Cellars in which he charged wine collectors a fee for storing their wine in environmentally controlled conditions. As part of his business, he rented approximately 2,500 square feet of space at Wines Central, a 240,000 square foot warehouse located in Vallejo, California. Most of Wines Central was dedicated to the storage of premium wine for Napa Valley wineries. Approximately 95 Napa Valley wineries stored wine at Wines Central. Some of these wineries lost entire vintages and, in some cases, their entire inventory. Over six million bottles of wine were destroyed in the fire.
After accepting the guilty plea, Judge Karlton scheduled the matter for Judgment and Sentencing on January 26, 2010. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the United States has agreed to recommend a sentence of 188 months.