two more defendants indicted for hereford house arson
owner charged with hiring others to set fire at landmark restaurant;
resulted in $2.5 million insurance claim
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two more defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury along with the owner of the Hereford House restaurant for their roles in an arson and mail fraud conspiracy that destroyed the landmark downtown Kansas City restaurant on Oct. 20, 2008.
Rodney J. Anderson, 58, Vincent Pisciotta, 56, and Mark A. Sorrentino, 45, all of Kansas City, were charged in a four-count superseding indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Tuesday, June 7, 2011. The superseding indictment replaces the original indictment that was returned on June 22, 2010, which charged only Anderson. The sealed indictment was made public today upon the arrests of Pisciotta and Sorrentino, who remain in federal custody pending detention hearings on Friday, June 10, 2011.
Anderson is a co-owner of B & C Restaurant Corporation, a holding company that owned the Hereford House restaurant business. Anderson is also a co-owner of Hereford K.C. Realty, LLC, which owned the building at 2 E. 20th Street, Kansas City, Mo., in which the Hereford House was located, and a co-owner of Skivers Corporation, a restaurant management company that managed the Hereford House and other area restaurants.
According to the indictment, Anderson hired Pisciotta, Sorrentino and others to set fire to the Hereford House. Anderson allegedly met with Pisciotta on Sept. 27, 2008. Anderson showed him around the building for about 50 minutes, the indictment says, and gave him a key and a security alarm code so that Pisciotta, Sorrentino and another, unnamed co-conspirator could gain entry into the Hereford House and deactivate the security alarm system.
On Oct. 12, 2008, Pisciotta, Sorrentino and a co-conspirator allegedly used the key and alarm code Anderson had provided to enter the Hereford House and conduct a walk-through in preparation for setting fire to the building. On Oct. 19, 2008, they allegedly used the key and security code to enter the Hereford House again and set fire to the building.
According to the indictment, about a month after the fire, Anderson requested an advance payment of $300,000 from Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, which provided insurance coverage for the building and contents of the Hereford House. The check, which was sent by Travelers via overnight delivery, provides the basis for the mail fraud charge in Count Three of the indictment. Anderson also claimed a loss of $962,593 on the Hereford House building and a loss of $1,459,505 on behalf of B & C Restaurant Corporation.
The federal indictment alleges that Anderson, Pisciotta and Sorrentino participated in a conspiracy to commit arson at the Hereford House, and to commit mail fraud against Travelers. In addition to the conspiracy, the defendants are charged with aiding and abetting each other to commit one count of arson, one count of mail fraud and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony.
Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul S. Becker and Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.