Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Restaurateur Rod Anderson found guilty of Hereford House arson

The jury returns a guilty verdict in the Hereford House arson case.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Jurors believed the person in this video was, indeed, Mark Sorrentino and found him guilty today.
  • Jurors believed the person in this video was, indeed, Mark Sorrentino and found him guilty today.

Rod Anderson
  • Rod Anderson
The jury in the high-profile trial of restaurateur Rod Anderson — part-owner and very public face of Kansas City's Hereford House restaurants — found the 59-year-old businessman guilty today on four counts of arson, mail fraud, conspiracy, and using fire to commit a federal crime. Anderson's co-defendants in the federal case, Vincent Pisciotta and Mark Sorrentino, were also found guilty on charges of arson, conspiracy, and using fire to commit a federal crime. According to the courthouse story posted this afternoon by KSHB Channel 41, Anderson and his co-defendants face a maximum of 35 years in prison.

The verdict came as a shock to many in Kansas City's restaurant community. Anderson, who took over the operation of the original Hereford House restaurant in 1987 (and went on to open satellite venues around the metro over the last two decades), was a popular and respected businessman.

"I'm in shock," said Leonard Mirabile of Jasper's Restaurant, who has known Anderson for many years. "Rod is, first and foremost, a businessman. He started his career as an accountant. I can't believe he could be involved in anything like this."

This — a conspiracy to burn down the 55-year-old downtown Hereford House for the $2.5 million insurance payout — seemed out of character for the professional, buttoned-down Anderson. All three defendants were taken into police custody after the verdicts were announced.

Wendy Cashen Tapper, who produced a local stage production of Tony and Tina's Wedding in cooperation with Rod Anderson at Muldoon's Bar & Grill in Westport in 1995, says the restaurateur "was a consumate professional. Honest, compassionate, kind to his employees. I can't believe the Rod Anderson found guilty of these charges is the same man that I knew."

Jim Stanislav, the chief financial officer of the Anderson Restaurant Group, assured Fat City that the three existing Hereford House restaurants — in Leawood, Zona Rosa and Independence — as well as Pierpont's restaurant in Union Station will continue to operate without Anderson's day-to-day involvement. "We're moving forward," Stanislav says. "There will be no change in our business."

Stanislav did release a statement regarding Anderson after today's verdict:

"Our thoughts, support and prayers are with Rod, his wife and children. We want to remind you that Rod Anderson has been a generous community member for 25 years ... employing thousands and contributing to countless charities and fundraisers. The Hereford House and Pierpont’s at Union Station will continue to operate as before, providing the great food and great service that has made Kansas City proud."

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