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Car Dealership Mogul In Austin Arrested On Arson Charges For The Second Time This Year

The founder of Continental Automotive Group in Austin, Texas, has been charged in connection with four fires

 Car Dealership Mogul In Austin Arrested On Arson Charges For The Second Time This Year

  • Austin businessman and dealership group owner Bryan Hardeman is facing several felony arson charges.
  • Authorities believe that he set fire to various properties that he at one point wanted to buy.
  • This is his second arrest this year related to arson and he’s awaiting a court date on June 12.

Residents of Austin, Texas likely know of the businesses that Bryan Hardeman co-founded in the 1960s. He’s one of the men behind Continental Automotive which owns several dealerships for Subaru, Mercedes, Audi, Honda, Infiniti, Jeep, and more.

Despite retiring in 2017, it appears as though the 75-year-old isn’t content to sit at home and enjoy his wealth. He is now facing charges related to multiple fires, which the Austin Fire Department (AFD) alleges were intentionally set.

Authorities first arrested Hardeman on February 29 on charges of felony arson and burglary. That came in response to a fire set at a closed bike shop in downtown Austin. Video from the scene reportedly shows an older man walk in with a can of gasoline, pour it throughout the property, and then set it ablaze before watching it for some time. Security cameras also show the arsonist leaving the scene in a white Mercedes-Benz SUV.

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Jeffrey Deane, captain of the fire department’s arson investigation branch at the time, provided a statement to AutoNews. “This person that we recognized as Hardeman [was] carrying a red container, you know, consistent with the shape of a five-gallon gasoline container inside the building and pouring a liquid, some type of liquid accelerant and then shortly after doing that, dropping the matches, and igniting that liquid and starting the fire,” Deane said regarding camera footage of the Feb. 25 arson. “He spent about 10 minutes in there, which was a pretty good amount of time in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon.”

Now, authorities have arrested Hardeman again, this time on Wednesday, April 24 on two counts of first-degree felony arson and one count of second-degree felony arson. They believe he’s to blame for a fire on Christmas day, another on February 17th, and one more on February 20th.

In each case, the target appeared to be one related to property that Hardeman was interested in buying at one time. Will Hardeman, Bryan’s son and managing partner of Continental Automotive, said in response to his father’s arrest, “although these allegations are very serious, we are still trying to sort fact from fiction.”

Image Credit: KVUE

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