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HomeBusiness & CommunityAdmitted arsonist accused of setting HCSO vehicle ablaze

Admitted arsonist accused of setting HCSO vehicle ablaze

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A Hernando County man is being held at the Hernando County Detention Center for allegedly setting a vehicle, belonging to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), ablaze in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Spring Hill. HCSO Spokesperson Denise Moloney said that just before 5 pm on Dec. 7, 9-1-1 operators received several calls reporting that a marked HCSO patrol vehicle parked in the lot of an apartment complex near Northcliffe Boulevard and Portillo Road in Spring Hill was on fire.

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Several patrol deputies responded to the call, and Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services (HCFES) personnel arrived on the scene and extinguished the blaze.

Initial inspections revealed severe damage to the rear passenger area of the vehicle near its gas tank. Investigators later found trash and other items directly under the gas tank near the back of the passenger side wheel.
“Detectives believed the items were placed to deliberately set the patrol vehicle on fire,” Moloney said.

Another vehicle belonging to a resident of the apartment complex that was parked near the patrol vehicle was also damaged by the fire.
Just as HCSO detectives began their investigation, a man later identified as Anthony Thomas Tarduno, 48, approached the scene and told investigators that he had started the fire.

In addition to admitting that he started the blaze, Tarduno told detectives that he was “intoxicated” when he started the blaze and that he and does “stupid things” when he gets “drunk.”

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He went on to tell detectives that he had been drinking at a bar on Northcliffe Boulevard and left on foot just before 4:30 pm.
During the walk, Tarduno said that he noticed the HCSO patrol vehicle and decided to set in on fire. He then told investigators that he took a bag of garbage from a nearby dumpster, placed it under the HCSO vehicle and used a lighter to set it ablaze.
Tarduno said he went back to the bar after starting the fire, he went back to the bar.

“Several minutes later, Tarduno said he ‘felt bad’ and returned to the scene to confess,” Moloney said.

According to Moloney, Tarduno told detectives that he was a “professional arsonist” who was arrested and convicted of other arson-related crimes.
In fact, according to Hernando County booking records Tarduno was arrested in 2012 for arson. He was also arrested for indecent exposure in 2011 and for driving on a suspended license in 2018.

On Dec. 8. Annmarie Barbaro Guadagnino posted on Facebook that a car belonging to her husband Hernando School Board Chairman Gus Guadagnino was set afire by Tarduno on Nov. 8.

“This is the same individual that set fire to Gus’s Infinity during the elections,” Guadagnino’s post said.

On Dec. 7, Tarduno was arrested and booked into the Hernando County Detention Center on two counts of arson.

Meanwhile, the case remains under investigation.

Anyone with information about it should call Hernando County Crime Stoppers at phone at 1-866-990-TIPS (8477), text **TIPS from a cell phone or submit a tip online at http://www.hernandocountycrimestoppers.com.

All Crime Stoppers tips are anonymous and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000.

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