Albuquerque man indicted in Hitching Post fire

Cheyenne, WY – U.S. Attorney Christopher Crofts announced on Friday that Ajay Jariwala, 51, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been indicted by a Wyoming Federal Grand Jury for his alleged involvement with a fire at the historic Hitching Post Inn, in Cheyenne, on September 15, 2010.

Jariwala has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit arson; conspiracy to use fire in the commission of another federal felony; aiding and abetting arson; aiding and abetting the use of fire in the commission of another federal felony and wire fraud.

Jariwala was arrested last Thursday, January 13 on these charges in Albuquerque and will make his initial appearance in federal court in New Mexico in the near future.

If convicted of these offenses, Jariwala will be subject to a term of not more than 110 years in federal prison, fines of not more than 1.5 million dollars, 3 years supervised release, and $600 in special assessments.

That fire occurred September 15, and destroyed a large portion of the iconic Cheyenne hotel. For years, the Hitching Post had been the gathering place for state lawmakers when they headed to Cheyenne for legislative sessions. A federal indictment revealed last week that Jariwala wanted the hotel destroyed in order to collect $13.6 million in insurance money. He allegedly hired a contractor to renovate the hotel in 2010, and when money ran short, he approached the builder about burning the hotel down. Jariwala also allegedly helped the contractor get inside the building undetected. A federal grand jury indicted the contractor, Robert Rodriguez on arson and other charges in September. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is leading the investigation with assistance from the Cheyenne Police Department and the Cheyenne Fire Department. As the investigation into the fire is ongoing, no further comment regarding the case may be made at this time.

By Deborah Demander, KNYN/KADQ News Director

January 21, 2013 | Posted in News | Bookmark the permalink

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