Thursday, February 22, 2018
Public safety

Hernando deputies release photo of suspect in torching of candidate's SUV

SPRING HILL — A fire that destroyed businessman and Hernando School Board candidate Gus Guadagnino's vehicle late Thursday has been deemed an arson after video surveillance caught a man igniting trash under it.

Guadagnino's 2007 Infiniti caught fire shortly after 11 p.m. in the alley behind Jerry's Place, a popular bar at 10553 Spring Hill Drive.

The Sheriff's Office on Tuesday released video showing a man they say is responsible for the fire. The man came out of the bar about 11:10 p.m. before he walked over to a trash bin and pulled out a bag filled with Pepsi cans, pieces of paper and other bits of trash, according to the Sheriff's Office. The man then stuck the bag of garbage around the right rear tire, lit it and watched it smoulder. He sat there for a few minutes — until about 11:15 p.m. — until it caught fire, then he left.

"I didn't think I had enemies like that," said Guadagnino. "I don't know if it was a practical joke, a vendetta. … I guess I'll know better when I know who it is."

The sport utility vehicle was a total loss, according to Spring Hill Fire Rescue. Most of the back of the vehicle was burned, and smoke filled the vehicle.

Guadagnino, the semiretired owner of Joni Industries and Seaboard Pencil Co., is one of four candidates seeking the District 4 School Board seat on the Aug. 14 election ballot.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Hernando County sheriff's Detective Chris Kraft at (352) 754-6850.

Times Staff Writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report.

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