Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Former Hereford House owner indicted in 2008 arson

A lengthy investigation conducted by our Bomb and Arson Unit, the Kansas City Fire Department, ATF and FBI culminated today in an announcement from U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips' Office that the owner of the Hereford House was indicted for his role in an arson and mail fraud conspiracy that destroyed the storied restaurant at 2 E. 20th. St. on Oct. 20, 2008, and resulted in a $2.5 million insurance claim.

Rodney D. Anderson, 57, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit arson, arson, mail fraud and using fire to commit a federal felony. Read the full details in the U.S. Attorney's press release below:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an owner of the Hereford House restaurant was indicted by a federal grand jury today for his role in an arson and mail fraud conspiracy that destroyed the landmark downtown Kansas City restaurant on Oct. 20, 2008.

“Today’s indictment alleges a $2.5 million fraud scheme,” Phillips said. “A Hereford House owner is charged for his role in an arson and mail fraud conspiracy, but we believe the men he hired to actually set the blaze are still at large. I appreciate the diligent effort of law enforcement in this on-going investigation and urge the public to provide any information that will help bring the remaining perpetrators to justice.”

Rodney J. Anderson, 57, of Kansas City, was charged in a four-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City. 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 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.

Today’s indictment alleges that Anderson participated in a conspiracy to commit arson at the Hereford House, 2 E. 20th Street, Kansas City, Mo., and to commit mail fraud against Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, which provided insurance coverage for the building and contents of the Hereford House.

In addition to the conspiracy, Anderson is charged with one count of arson, one count of mail fraud and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony.

According to the indictment, Anderson obtained the services of others, who are not identified in the indictment, to set fire to the Hereford House. Anderson allegedly met with a co-conspirator on Sept. 27, 2008. Anderson showed the co-conspirator around the building for about 50 minutes, the indictment says, and gave him a key and a security alarm code.

On Oct. 12, 2008, Anderson’s co-conspirators allegedly used the key and alarm code he provided to enter the Hereford House and conduct a walk-through in preparation for setting fire to the building. On Oct. 19, 2008, Anderson’s co-conspirators allegedly used the key and security code he provided to enter the Hereford House again and set fire to the building.

According to the indictment, Anderson requested an advance payment of $300,000 from Travelers. 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.

Photographs of individuals taken from video surveillance cameras have been released, and the public’s assistance is being sought to identify the individuals in the photographs. A $10,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the additional co-conspirators.

The public is asked to call the local ATF office at 816-559-0850, ATF’s toll free hotline, 1-888-ATF-FIRE (888-283-3473) or Kansas City Crime Stoppers hotline at 816-474-TIPS (816-474-8477) with any information that may help identify those responsible for the fire. The phone lines are answered 24 hours a day and all calls remain confidential.

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.

We're still looking for co-conspirators with whom Anderson allegedly arranged to set the fire. Their photos are below, and there is a $10,000 reward for information leading to their arrest. If you can identify them, please call the local ATF office at 816-559-0850, the ATF's toll-free hotline, 1-888-ATF-FIRE (888-283-3473) or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).