Behold the Tale of an Alleged Wine Industry Con Job, and Six Million Bottles That Went Up In Flames

Mark Christian Anderson, the
Mark Christian Anderson, the “portly bon vivant.” Photo: Sausalito Police Department

In October 2005, a fire broke out at a warehouse called Wines Central on Vallejo’s Mare Island that destroyed 6 million bottles of fine wine that belonged to wineries and collectors, valued at around $200 million. The cause was ruled to be arson, and a fellow named Mark Christian Anderson plead guilty to setting the blaze — the story seems to be that the former wine collection-keeper sold a bunch of wine out the back door to fund his lavish lifestyle, and as embezzlement charges came to light, he torched the place where he was renting space for his clients’ wine. Today in federal court, Anderson went before a judge to ask that that guilty plea be set aside, claiming that his lawyer threw him “under the bus,” but all signs have pointed to Anderson’s guilt all along. An assistant U.S. Attorney got Anderson to agree to a fifteen-year sentence in order to avoid trial back in 2009, but now Anderson wants a trial, and the government meanwhile wants his sentence to be even longer.

Before we all find out what happens, you may want to read the whole delightful tale, in which the Chron refers to Anderson as a “portly bon vivant” whose lawyer describes him “speaking in riddles, shifting stories and offering names of witnesses who do not exist.”

Update: A federal judge on Tuesday “heaved exasperated sighs, rubbed his face and said he was ‘very much torn’” before scheduling a new evidentiary hearing on the matter of Anderson’s guilty plea. “It is clear we will never get this case over with,” he said. [Chron]

Wine arson suspect at war with his ex-lawyer

Behold the Tale of an Alleged Wine Industry Con Job, and Six Million Bottles