NM man admits setting Hitching Post fire

CHEYENNE (AP) — A New Mexico man has pleaded guilty to arson and conspiracy charges in the 2010 fire that destroyed a landmark hotel in Cheyenne.

Forty-four year old Robert Rodriguez admitted torching the main building of the Hitching Post Inn, which had been a favorite lodge and watering hole for Wyoming lawmakers for decades.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal in Cheyenne. He faces sentencing in June.

Rodriguez said co-defendant Ajay Jariwala, a principal in the company that owned the hotel, hired him to set the fire and left the back door open with gas cans inside.

Rodriguez says Jariwala wanted to burn the building for insurance money because he couldn’t afford a renovation project. Jariwala’s lawyer didn’t immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.

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