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Hitching Post Inn Fire

Flames burn through the roof of the Hitching Post Inn in Cheyenne on Sept. 15, 2010.

Michael Smith, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – More than seven years after the burning of the historic Hitching Post Inn, one loose end remains in court for a former property owner convicted of committing insurance fraud in connection with the fire.

Falgun Dharia still awaits sentencing in the case after pleading guilty in 2014 to knowing about the arson when he filed an insurance claim for more than $13 million.

The case was transferred to federal court in New York shortly after he and federal prosecutors reached a plea agreement.

The most recent attempt at a sentencing Dec. 19 was rescheduled as a status conference to discuss issues of restitution, according to docket entries available on the federal court website.

It’s unclear when the sentencing will actually take place or whether restitution will be owed.

According to previous reporting:

A federal grand jury indicted Dharia in Wyoming four years after the fire with counts of conspiring to commit insurance fraud by mail and wire, aiding and abetting wire fraud, conspiring to commit arson, aiding and abetting arson, conspiring to use fire in commission of another felony offense, and aiding and abetting the use of fire in the commission of another felony.

All counts but the insurance fraud are proposed to be dismissed at the sentencing.

Insurance fraud is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison, no more than three years of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine.

Dharia is also awaiting sentencing in a bank fraud case charged in July 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

One of Dharia’s partners, Ajay Jariwala of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sentenced in 2013 to six years in federal prison for conspiring to commit arson.

Jariwala hired a man named Robert Rodriguez, who was convicted of conspiring to commit fraud and aiding and abetting arson in September 2013 after agreeing to set fire to the hotel’s lodge building.

What’s left of the storied hotel now languishes while awaiting city leaders to make a decision on its future.

Mayor Marian Orr has been working on a deal since last fall that would have the city pay to demolish most of the old hotel in exchange for land of equal value to the work.

She renewed that promise in her State of the City address Monday, promising to demolish the building and “make the area poised for renewal” in 2018.

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