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Wine Arsonist Asks To Retract Guilty Plea

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 3 (UPI) — The California wine connoisseur who pleaded guilty in 2009 to torching more than $200 million worth of wine asked to retract his guilty plea, officials say.

Mark Christian Anderson, 62, went to court Tuesday to retract his 2009 guilty plea, arguing his previous attorney, Mark Reichel, was unprepared for trial and duped him into the plea, the San Francisco Chronicles reported.

“He threw me under the bus,” Anderson wrote in a court filing last week.

“It is clear we will never get this case over with,” U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton said before filing an evidentiary hearing on Anderson’s request to withdraw his previous guilty plea.

Anderson said he wants to go to trial for the 2005 arson of Wines Central, a wine storage facility in Vallejo, Calif.

The fire started in a cage that Anderson rented to house his wine storage business, Sausalito Cellars, and gasoline soaked rags were found there, the newspaper said. Anderson is also accused of embezzlement, for selling off more than 8,000 bottles of wine to afford his lifestyle.

Anderson took a plea in 2009, for which he received 15 years in prison. Should he be convicted at trial, he stands to be sentenced 280 years in prison.

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