July 30, 2002 at 6:23 PM EDT - Updated June 30 at 12:30 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) - A grocer pleaded guilty to plotting to burn down his Cleveland store.
Saleh Nawash entered his pleas Monday on charges of conspiracy, attempted aggravated arson and attempted insurance fraud. Prosecutors dropped eight other charges in exchange for the plea.
Prosecutors said that Nawash wanted to stage a fire to look like a hate crime against an Islamic business.
His attorneys said that the 54-year-old Nawash was distressed over the failure of his business, Halal Products. Investigators at first charged Nawash and his friend, Ahmed Jaffal of Akron, with trying to hire a hit man to rob and kill two former business partners and then burn down the store.
Jaffal pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy charges.
Attorneys for Nawash said that he never intended to rob or kill anyone.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)