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Hitching Post Inn

Remains of the lounge area of the Hitching Post Inn in November 2010 are seen. The Cheyenne, Wyo., landmark burned to the ground.

CASPER, Wyo. -- A new name has surfaced in the Hitching Post Inn fire case, creating a new wrinkle in the ever-unfolding, two-year saga.

Albuquerque, N.M., resident Robert Rodriguez was indicted by a Wyoming federal grand jury Friday for his alleged involvement in the September 2010 fire.

According to a recent U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, the accusations charge that Rodriguez “maliciously damaged and destroyed by means of fire the Hitching Post Inn” and that he “used fire to aid and abet mail and wire fraud.”

Rodriguez’s name was previously unknown in the public purview of the case. Officials were unable to comment further at the time the information was released.

According to the release, Rodriguez appeared in United States District Court in Cheyenne on Friday and was ordered detained without bail.

On Sept. 15, 2010, a fire tore through the central portion of Cheyenne’s historic hotel. Five days later, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that the fire was ruled arson, according to previous Star-Tribune reports.

Documentation of the hotel’s financial woes helped ignite the theory that the Hitch’s owners conspired to torch the structure for insurance money. In the following years, opposing lawsuits have been filed from both the hotel owners and the insurance company.

CJM Hospitality fired the first volley in December, alleging that National Surety Corp. failed to honor its obligations to pay out on the insurance policy. The next month, National Surety Corp. answered with a counter suit that claimed CJM conspired to burn down the hotel and collect up to $13.6 million. A torrent of motions have been filed by both parties in the months following.

Rodriguez was not one of the original defendants named in National Surety Corp.’s lawsuit. Both suits are ongoing.

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