Sentencing Set for Man Charged in 2010 Hitching Post Fire, Insurance Fraud

October 14, 2016

Sentencing has been set for a New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to insurance fraud charges in connection with the 2010 arson of the Hitching Post Inn, a landmark Cheyenne hotel that was a popular place for Wyoming lawmakers to stay during the annual legislative session.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that Falgun Dharia faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced Nov. 17.

Dharia was a principal in CJM Hospitality LLC, which bought the Hitching Post at a bankruptcy proceeding. Prosecutors say the blaze was set to defraud an insurance company of $13 million.

Dharia has admitted to knowing about the arson when filing an insurance claim, but denies responsibility for the fire.

One of Dharia’s business partners and two other men were sentenced to prison in 2013 for various crimes related to the blaze.

Ajay Jariwala, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is serving a six-year prison sentence for commissioning the arson, and Robert Rodriguez, also of Albuquerque, a five-year prison term for carrying it out.

Dharia was a principal in CJM Hospitality LLC, which had bought the Hitching Post at a bankruptcy proceeding for $1 million. Dharia arranged for Jariwala to oversee the renovation of the hotel and with Jariwala decided hire Rodriguez to burn it down to collect insurance, according to the indictment.

In September, 2010, Jariwala arranged a phone conversation between Rodriguez and Dharia in which Dharia guaranteed Rodriguez would be paid if he set fire to the Hitching Post main lodge, federal prosecutors allege.

The fire happened early on Sept. 15, 2010.

Before the fire, the Hitching Post had a steakhouse and a bar with regular, live music acts. Rooms on the property that survived the fire continue to be rented out, but the main lodge hasn’t been rebuilt.

Dharia will be sentenced in New York.

Mead Gruver contributed to this article.

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