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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nevada

Thursday, July 13, 2017

California Man Convicted Of Conspiracy To Commit Arson Of Popcorn Store And Extortion

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A California man was convicted by a jury on Wednesday of conspiring with others to burn down a Henderson popcorn business and threatening to injure the business owners, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre for the District of Nevada.


Following a three-day jury trial, Joel Kenneth Ausbie, 53, of Fontana, Calif., was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit arson and one count of committing extortion by force or threat of injury. United States District Judge James C. Mahan presided over the trial and scheduled sentencing for Oct. 18, 2017. Ausbie faces the maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


According to the indictment and court related documents, Ausbie and co-defendant Calvin Robinson paid co-defendant Joseph A. Strickland to set fire to Las Vegas Kettle Corn & Special Events, LLC, in Henderson. Robinson met Strickland in Victorville, Calif., and provided Strickland with directions as well as a note for Strickland to tape to the front window of the business. The note read: “I still don’t have my money. This is the last warning! Next time someone is going to be dead.” On Oct. 30, 2015, Strickland set fire to the business and as a result the business was closed. After the building fire, Robinson met Strickland and paid him for the act. Strickland also admitted to shooting at a private residence during the relevant conspiracy.


Robinson, 41, of Pomona, Calif., pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 10, 2017, and Strickland, 35, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 28, 2017.


The case was investigated by the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa Cartier-Giroux and Cristina D. Silva.



Updated July 13, 2017