Connection between defendants revealed in Hereford House arson trial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Prosecutors have started to connect the dots between three men on trial for allegedly setting fire to the downtown Hereford House in 2008 to collect insurance money.

Michael Balano took the stand Wednesday and testified defendants Mark Sorrentino and Vince Pisciotta are family friends.

Balano said he knows the other defendant Rod Anderson, part owner of the downtown Hereford House, because Anderson and all the Hereford House restaurants were clients of the company where Balano worked, KC Meat & Poultry. Anderson eventually became a business partner at the meat business.

Phone records show Balano called two of the defendants the same day that prosecutors say they began planning the arson.

On Thursday, the second of two secret witnesses is expected to testify. The wife of Mark Sorrentino received reward money for information she contributed to the investigation. Prosecutors filed a motion to keep her testimony a secret until the trial because they feared for her safety.

According to the FBI, Pisciotta is a "made member" of Kansas City's crime family and Sorrentino is a known close associate. The witness will be moving right after testifying.

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