Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Wine arson suspect wants to change plea

By
March 1, 2011 | Leave Comment

SACRAMENTO — A former Sausalito wine dealer accused of destroying $200 million worth of Napa Valley wines — including the first release of Rominger West chardonnay and syrah — is trying to withdraw his guilty plea.

A May 3 hearing has been scheduled in Sacramento federal court to determine whether Mark Anderson will be allowed to plead not guilty and go to trial on 19 charges.

Anderson needs a judge’s permission to undo the guilty plea entered in 2009.

Anderson is accused of starting a fire in 2005 at a Mare Island warehouse that destroyed 6 million bottles of wine belonging to 92 wineries and 42 private collectors. Prosecutors say the fire was meant to cover up a scheme in which Anderson sold his clients’ wine without their permission.

He now claims he was coerced into accepting a plea deal.

Some wineries lost everything, and a few were forced to shut down. Among the losses were the first wines bottled by the late Charlie Rominger and Mark West of Yolo County. The fire destroyed about 40 percent of their debut release — 450 cases of chardonnay and 650 cases of syrah — but it represented 100 percent of their bottled wine, leaving them with nothing to pour that first year.

Although the Rominger West wine was insured, “You can’t drink those insurance payments,” Rominger said at the time. “They don’t taste as good as what burned up.”

In November 2009, Anderson’s attorney, Mark Reichel, noted that his client would face up to life in prison if he were convicted of the 19 criminal counts he faced, including arson, mail fraud, and tax evasion.

“If there’s a possibility of not getting a life sentence (with a plea),” the attorney said, “you consider it.”

Before the fire, Anderson rented a cage at Wines Central as part of his own specialty storage business for collectors, called Sausalito Cellars. The UC Berkeley graduate also served on two city commissions, ran Sausalito’s sister-city program and was a fixture at Sushi Ran, a popular downtown restaurant.

But prosecutors and Sausalito police said he turned to fraud to fund a lavish lifestyle. He used aliases, they said, to secretly sell thousands of his clients’ bottles to wine dealers, including a famed 1959 Lafite-Rothschild. He was charged in February 2004 with embezzlement in Marin County, a case that is still pending.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the fire at Wine Central broke out soon after Anderson — who was in the process of being evicted from the storage center — walked out of the building, investigators said. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded the fire started in Anderson’s cage.

About 6 million bottles of wine owned by 92 Napa Valley wineries and 43 collectors were destroyed. Many wineries lost their entire stock. Some lost “libraries” of older wines, robbing them of the ability to offer vertical tastings to show how their wines age.

Much of the prized liquid was shipped to the East Bay Municipal Utility District for conversion into ethanol. One winemaker, Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores in St. Helena, said she turned the wine she recovered into a “fire-roasted zinfandel-pomegranate marinade.”

Johnson said the fire had prompted heavier security and heftier insurance policies in the storage of wine.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
 
4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 3 Comments

 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

.

Arts

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6