>Times are still tough – Oakland hotel owner accused of soliciting arson

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>The owner of a downtown Oakland residential hotel has been charged in federal court with conspiring to have someone burn it down for insurance purposes, records unsealed Tuesday show.
Richard Earl Singer, 44, was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in Oakland with soliciting an arsonist to burn down the Hotel Menlo at 344 13th St.
Singer told an informant Dec. 28 that he wanted the seven-story hotel “completely totaled to maximize the insurance payout,” Special Agent Cynthia Cunningham of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives wrote in a court affidavit.

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