Aug. 28—OTTUMWA — Police say a Texas man hired another individual to set fire to a commercial structure he owned in Ottumwa.
Mark Trong Nguyen, 52, of Killeen, Texas, was booked Sunday on a warrant for aiding abetting first-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief, and possession of incendiary materials. He is being held on $25,000 cash-only bond with a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 5.
According to court documents, investigators say Nguyen had paid, or agreed to pay, an individual to place incendiary materials in a commercial building located at 1317 E. Main St. in Ottumwa to set the building on fire on July 5, 2023. Online court records did not show charges for the other individual.
Police say the act caused more than $10,000 in damages.
Court records show police have seized a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 that had been parked at a location in Des Moines. Records indicate the vehicle was used by to co-defendant for transportation to and from the scene in Ottumwa. The vehicle was owned by Nguyen.
In May, civil court documents show that Nguyen had filed for forcible entry and a temporary injunction on the property relating to a business dispute. Those documents say that Nguyen entered into an agreement with another individual to for El Texmex Bar, LLC. and that they would do business as a restaurant and bar.
The petition for forcible entry was dismissed as all parties failed to appear for trial. The court has not taken action on the injunction petition, according to online court documents. The injunction petition included an affidavit sworn to by Nguyen, which said he had purchased the real estate and equipment for the business venture, but that the other partner had locked him out of the building.
Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.