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Arson And Fraud Trial Begins In Kansas City After 2008 Blaze

Dan Verbeck

Testimony and evidence have started to flow out of the arson and fraud trial stemming from the 2008 fire that destroyed a well known Kansas City restaurant.The U.S. District Court trial of Hereford House operator Rod Anderson and two purported arsonists draws  so much interest the gallery is without a spare seat.

Anderson's lawyer, J.R. Hobbs told the jury his client had no reason to burn it, it was the peak revenue  season. Prosecutors counter that Anderson was deeply in debt.

Insurance fraud is one of the claims. Anderson applied for some $2.1 million in compensation.

The 20th and Main Street restaurant blew up and burned. Former fire chief Smoky Dyer took the witness stand and said  the explosion put lives in danger.

Passerby Tammie Wingert testified to being rocked by the fireball as she drove past at time of the blast.

Hobbs conceded Anderson let a man he didn't know into the restaurant not long before the fire and gave him code access to the building. Hobbs said Anderson thought the man was a "prospective investor," because the property and adjacent Midwest Hotel were up for sale as a package.

Federal ATF agents will be next to testify. The Bureau tried to identify two shadowy figures lugging gas cans into the building.

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