Man accused of wine arson tries plea change

AP News
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Posted: Mar 01, 2011 5:46 PM
Man accused of wine arson tries plea change

A former wine dealer accused of destroying $200 million worth of Napa Valley wines 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 six 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.

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