Admitted arsonist Anthony Thomas Tarduno will serve 10 years in the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) after pleading “No Contest” to setting a Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Patrol Car ablaze last month. The sentence was handed down in Hernando County Court on Jan. 3.
The prison term stems from a Dec. 7 report 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.
Several patrol deputies responded to the call, and Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services (HCFES) personnel arrived on the scene to extinguish the blaze.
An initial inspection of the HCSO vehicle showed severe damage to its rear passenger area near its gas tank. Investigators later found trash and other items directly under the gas tank near the back of the passenger side wheel.
Another vehicle belonging to a resident of the apartment complex that was parked near the patrol vehicle was also damaged by the fire.
As detectives began to investigate the scene, Anthony Thomas Tarduno, 48, approached and told them that he started the blaze after he had been drinking at a bar on Northcliffe Boulevard, left the bar on foot around 4:30 pm and then started the fire shortly after he noticed the vehicle.
He told investigators that he started the blaze by taking a bag of garbage from a nearby dumpster, placing it under the HCSO vehicle and using a lighter to set it ablaze. Afterward he returned to the bar.
According to HCSO Spokesperson Denise Moloney Tarduno told detectives that he was “intoxicated” when he started the blaze and that he does “stupid things” when he gets drunk.
He returned to the scene because he “felt bad” about the fire and wanted to confess, Moloney said.
Tarduno later told investigators that he was a “professional arsonist” who was previously convicted for committing similar crimes.
Detectives subsequently arrested Tarduno and charged him with two counts of arson.
His prison term will begin immediately.