A man who stored wine for private collectors, vineyards, and businesses pled guilty this past week to starting a fire that destroyed wines valued at over $200 million. In a plea agreement, Mark C. Anderson avoided a potential life behind bars and will instead be sentenced to around 16 years.
Anderson made a business offering storage to upscale restaurants, wine collectors, and wineries. He opened his warehouse in a submarine repair depot on Vallejo’s Mare Island. It was here where he would eventually start a fire that would destroy 6 million bottles of wine.
The business began in the 1990s and continued until the fire in 2005. However, as this report from the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Anderson had not paid rent in the warehouse for about 7 months and had already been evicted at the time of the fire.
Motive is still in question but it is believed that he started the fire to cover up a string of fraud involving the wines. Anderson apparently was selling the wine he was storing and using the money to support his lavish lifestyle.
Because many wineries and businesses stored all of their collection with Anderson, they were left with nothing.
By pleading guilty, Anderson avoided a lengthy trial and the potential testimonies of 56 witnesses, victims of his alleged fraud and fire. He also bargained for a shorter sentence, which may allow him to walk out a free man in less than a decade.
Plea bargains are a tool of the courts used under many circumstances. Often they offer the best option for a defendant that would otherwise potentially lose their case at trial. Plea bargains aren’t appropriate in all cases however.
If you are facing criminal charges and curious about plea bargains and other options available to you, an experienced defense attorney can help you explore those options. Contact our attorneys today to discuss the specifics of your case.
Together we can look at your options and determine the best course of action when you go before the courts.