A Redwood City truck owner behind on his payments pleaded no contest Friday to felony grand theft for torching the vehicle so his insurance company would pay off the $14,000 loan balance.
Nery Leonidas Garcia, 27, was originally charged with arson and insurance fraud but prosecutors let him accept a deal on the theft charge instead. Garcia faces a set term of 120 days in jail when formally sentenced April 5.
Prosecutors say on May 3, 2011 Garcia's wife called AAA Insurance to report the Dodge Durango stolen and a sheriff's deputy found his truck on fire in Portola Valley. Investigators concluded the fire was arson and that Garcia had arranged the blaze to settle his outstanding loan.
Garcia was originally free on a $50,000 bail bond but was taken back into custody on a $75,000 bench warrant after failing to appear at an earlier court hearing.