KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Four years after a fire destroyed the Hereford House in the Crossroads District, the federal arson trial began on Monday in a Jackson County court room.
Accused are Rod Anderson, the part-owner of the Hereford House, and Vicent Pisciotta and Mark Sorrentino -- the two men prosecutors say Anderson hired to set the restaurant on fire.
Three weeks before the blaze, Anderson was recorded on surveillance video talking with someone at the restaurant, giving them a tour of the layout and then handing them a key and the alarm codes.
Prosecutors said the person receiving the key was Vincent Pisciotta. Prosecutors said Pisciotta and Mark Sorentino were captured on surveillance images the night of the fire. The two men are accused of lighting 14 jugs of gasoline inside the restaurant, causing a massive explosion.
Both men deny it's them on the blurry surveillance video.
Anderson said he had no motive to hire anyone to set the Hereford House on fire because his ownership had shrunk from 45 percent in 1988 to just two percent in 2008. However, Anderson did admit to giving his key and the alarm codes to a man, he says, he thought was an out of town investor he couldn't identify. Anderson also claims the $2.4 million of insurance money could have only benefited the restaurant and not him personally.
The trial is expected to last all week.