Alleged Hate Crime Was Arson, Police Say
A fire that damaged a Muslim-owned motel in Salt Lake City last summer was not a hate crime, police said as a co-owner was accused of setting the blaze.
Mazhar Tabesh, 39, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated arson, police Sgt. Jason Bradley said.
Tabesh claimed the July 21 fire, which caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, was a hate crime and the FBI sent an agent who specializes in civil-rights cases to investigate.
Tabesh said the blaze started in a room rented by a man who paid cash, showed no identification and was seen leaving with another man just after the fire started. He also claimed to have been receiving threatening calls that increased after last year’s terrorist attacks.
The motel is owned by Tabesh and his father-in-law.