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New Mexico man admits to burning down Hitching Post

Apr 3, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A New Mexico man pleaded guilty Monday to arson and conspiracy charges in the 2010 fire that destroyed a landmark hotel in Cheyenne.

Robert Rodriguez, 44, 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 before U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal in Cheyenne. She set sentencing for June 6.

Rodriguez told Freudenthal that co-defendant Ajay Jariwala had hired him to set the fire and left the back door open with gasoline cans inside.

Jariwala is a New Mexico hotelier and principal in CJM Hospitality LLC, the company that owned the hotel, according to court papers.

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