Two Men Charged with Arson in Central City Meth Fire

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

Benjamin Smith (left); Steven Hotz (right)

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By Aaron Hepker

CENTRAL CITY, Iowa - Two Central City men were charged Tuesday with first-degree arson for an apartment fire last October which investigators say started when the two men attempted to manufacture methamphetamine.

Benjamin J. Smith, 24, and Steven M. Hotz, 31, are charged with first-degree arson, manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a minor, possession with intent to manufacture/deliver controlled substance (methamphetamine), possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (marijuana) and drug tax stamp violation.

Both men were arrested on a warrant and are currently in jail. Smith’s bond was set at $50,000 cash and Hotz’s bond is $90,000 cash or surety.

A joint investigation by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s office determined the fire started in Hotz’s residence at 60 N. 8th St., #2, in Central City, Oct.19, 2012, and was the result of manufacturing methamphetamine.

Smith was burned in the blaze and hospitalized for burns to his body, according to a sheriff’s report.

According to a criminal complaint, Hotz and Smith were seen fleeing the duplex where others, including children, lived. Investigators found materials and devices used to make methamphetamine and more than 42.5 grams of marijuana that was intended for delivery.
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