Heber City Motel Owner To Stand Trial on Arson Charges

Heber City Motel Owner To Stand Trial on Arson Charges

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

HEBER CITY, Utah (AP) -- A motel owner accused of setting his business on fire and portraying it as a hate crime will stand trial on first-degree felony aggravated arson charges.

Mazhar Tabesh, 39, is accused of inventing a "mystery man" staying in Room 112 of the Alpine Lodge, and that he set the July 21 fire himself in an effort to escape financial problems.

Judge Donald Eyre filed a ruling last week that bound Tabesh over to stand trial. An arraignment is scheduled for later this month. If convicted, Tabesh could face a sentence of up to life in prison.

Tabesh, 39, a Muslim from Pakistan who has U.S. citizenship, claimed the fire was a hate crime and that his arrest -- on Sept. 11, 2002 -- was racially motivated.

Sympathetic residents raised nearly $1,400 for him toward the estimated $100,000 in damage caused by the fire.

A Heber City police officer testified at Tabesh's preliminary hearing that he was losing about $5,900 a month on the motel and still owed $450,000 on the mortgage.

Police and firefighters responding to a call from Tabesh found a small closet fire in Room 112 and a larger blaze in an upstairs hallway. Authorities have said accelerants were used in both fires.

Prosecutors said Tabesh's fingerprints were found on a food wrapper in the room.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast