The co-defendant in a first-degree arson case dating back nearly five years has pleaded guilty to the charges and will now testify on behalf of the prosecution.
Anthony Greco and Kathie Rinaldi appeared before Judge Robert Lane on Monday, both with counsel present. Rinaldi was Greco’s girlfriend when the alleged crimes were committed.
Following the hearing, Greco said Rinaldi pleading guilty to the charges was “insanity,” while suggesting that Rinaldi was misrepresented by her legal counsel.
“Why someone would plead guilty to something they didn’t do,” Greco said. “They scared her and she ran her out of money. The lawyers sucked every penny out of her and they scared her. All of the lawyers got a piece of the action and they just drained her of all the funds.”
A request for comment from Rinaldi’s attorney received no response as of press time on Tuesday.
Greco, who is scheduled to stand trial May 4, said Rinaldi’s decision will not change his defense strategy, even after prosecutors also offered him a plea deal.
“I am going with what I’m going with,” he said. “They offered me a deal and I laughed at them. They offered to drop two charges and just plead guilty to one. I looked at my lawyer and told him ‘I didn’t do anything wrong and I’m not pleading guilty to a parking ticket.”
Greco’s attorney, Michael Printy, was not available for comment on Monday. Greco also said he feels confident he will prevail in the trial.
“My lawyers and investigators and the witnesses that I have will make for an interesting case,” he said. “They don’t even know I wasn’t in town. I wasn’t even here.”
Rinaldi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a breach of peace, a gross misdemeanor. As part of the terms of the plea agreement, Rinaldi received a 364-day suspended jail sentence.
She must also pay the attorney general’s office $500 for prosecutorial costs as well as pay restitution to the Allstate Insurance Company in the amount of $14,025.
She also agreed to fully cooperate with prosecutors in the prosecution of Greco.
Both defendants were originally charged with first degree arson, insurance fraud and aiding and abetting. The couple is accused of orchestrating a fire at 5920 Pahrump Valley Blvd. in order to collect on the home’s insurance policy, according to court records in the case.
Greco, a former blackjack dealer, unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Pahrump Town Board last year.
According to the criminal complaint, both defendants provided misleading information when an insurance claim was filed on the home. According the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began when sheriff’s deputies responded to Rinaldi’s home on Aug. 19, 2010 in reference to a burglary.
Greco met deputies at the home and told the police that someone broke into the house and set the interior on fire. Greco also said he was working on the house the day prior and nothing was wrong.
Upon entering the home, deputies noticed that parts of the hallway and ceiling were burned as well as damage to several doors at the residence, including the garage door.
Greco informed deputies that nothing appeared to be missing from inside the house.
At the time, Nye County Sheriff’s Deputy Heather Trumble notified Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott Lewis, who responded and conducted an initial fire investigation.
In his report, Lewis’ report stated that he “observed several areas, center hall, center hall bathroom, with attached laundry area, and evidence of smoke and heat throughout, but no active fire.”
Nevada State Fire Marshal Michael Kolpak also concluded that the fire was intentional, stating a chemical accelerant was used to start the fire but unforeseen circumstances put out the flames.
“The fire was investigated and determined that mineral spirits were poured in the bathroom of the house then ignited. A nearby water line burst and subsequently extinguished the fire prematurely.
A can of mineral spirits was left in the hallway, and a pry bar was located in the bathroom.”
Other clues also led Kolpak to his determination that the fire was intentially set.
The report stated a hole had been cut out in the ceiling directly above the area where the fire was ignited. Ceiling and box fans were on at the time of the fire.
“Based on the combination of the factors, it appears the house was intentionally prepared by Greco to assist ventilation in the event of a fire, the report stated.
At the time, the home was in foreclosure status and Greco stated he was about to knock down walls to expand the bathroom.
The report also stated that Greco and Renaldi told investigators about several expensive renovations they had planned on the home, although it appeared both had no means to pay the mortgage, let alone these renovations.
A week prior to the fire, Rinaldi and Greco told authorities that they moved out all of Rinaldi’s collectables and expensive items that were stored at the residence.
The report said there were no appliances or furniture inside the home and the carpeting had also been removed as well as some of the doors were off their hinges.
Greco told investigators he had been remodeling the home since 2007. Kolpak, in his report, said very little work had actually been performed on the home.
Kolpak noted had the house been destroyed by fire, Rinaldi and Greco would have collected about $20,000.