California Professional Firefighters

Parole Denied to Arsonist Responsible for LA City FF Death

CPF and UFLAC Local 112 are pleased to announce that parole has been denied for Mario Catanio, the arsonist who set fire to a North Hollywood restaurant and took the life of Los Angeles firefighter Thomas Taylor.

Catanio set the fire at Cugee's Coffee Shop in North Hollywood on January 28, 1981, after being paid $2,500 by the restaurant's owners. Brother Taylor was one of the firefighters responding to the scene, and died falling through the collapsed roof, leaving behind a wife and two sons. Catanio was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murder and federal mail fraud.

Nearly 32 years later, Catanio was again up for parole and after a 9-hour parole hearing on June 28, 2013, parole was denied. Packed in a small room to testify at the hearing were Tom’s father George and his brother Jeff, both retired firefighters, retired LAFD Captain Mike Reagan who also responded to the 1981 incident, and Frank Lima, President of UFLAC 112 and CPF District 8 Vice President.

A resolution was passed at the 2013 CPF Convention that commissioned CPF to issue a call to action asking CPF local affiliates to participate in a comprehensive letter-writing campaign urging the Parole Board to deny early release. In this effort, CPF sent emails to members, posted calls to action on its website and social media outlets and produced a compelling Firevision episode encouraging firefighters to make their voices heard.

Through the outreach of CPF and UFLAC Local 112, firefighters, friends and family from throughout California wrote letters urging the Parole Board to deny parole, which produced a two inch thick stack of opposition letters, including one from L.A. Council Member Paul Krekorian, who also sponsored a motion unanimously approved by the Council urging denial of parole. Krekorian’s letter was referenced three times during the hearing.

Catanio will be up for parole again in 3 years.

READ: UFLAC Local 112 Press Release

WATCH: CPF Firevision -- Keep Arsonist Behind Bars