Schultz pleads guilty to amended charges in Pizza Ranch fire

Prison time, fines suspended
GCNO file photo

In a move that took even Clerk of Court office staff by surprise, charges were amended and Robert Schultz, owner of the Jefferson Pizza Ranch, pleaded guilty and a judgment was entered Dec. 13 in Greene County district court. Schultz will serve no prison time and pay no fines.

Schultz, 53, of Ankeny, entered Alford* pleas to amended charges of criminal mischief- second degree (a Class D felony) and arson- third degree (an aggravated misdemeanor). Schultz and defense attorney Roger Owens requested the court proceed immediately to sentencing.

On the criminal mischief charge, Schultz was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $750 with a $467 surcharge and a $125 Law Enforcement Initiative surcharge. On the arson charge, he was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $625 with a $218.75 surcharge. The prison time and the fines/surcharges were suspended on both counts, although he must pay the $125 LEI surcharge.

Schultz was placed on probation for three years on the first count and for two years on the second count. He must pay a $300 probation enrollment fee.

Schultz must pay victim restitution and $1,111.25 court costs. Sentencing was done by the Honorable William Ostlund.

Schultz was charged March 30 with insurance fraud, arson- first degree and criminal mischief- first degree in connection with the Jan. 27 at Pizza Ranch.

The amended charges and guilty plea came just five days after Judge Gary McMinimee ruled that text messages between Schultz and his brother Andrew Schultz would not be admissible as evidence.

According to an affidavit, on Jan. 26 at 3:27 pm the Andrew sent Rob a message, “Hate to ask again do you have any cash I know it didn’t work last time I will try to make sure it happens this time thanks brother if not that’s fine.”

Rob Schultz replied just two minutes later, “Ya I will pick them up and leave some cash.” The brother texted “Thanks Brother” at 6:13 pm, and on Jan 27, at 1:11 am, he texted to Rob “Go.”

Attorney Owens argued in a motion in limine that the text messages, intended by the prosecution to establish a conspiracy to set the fire, were inadmissible hearsay. McMinimee ruled that without other evidence to establish a conspiracy to commit arson, the text messages “do not make it more likely than not that the defendant and his brother conspired to commit arson.”

No charges have been filed against Andrew Schultz in connection with the fire.

*In entering an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit committing a crime, but believes that given the facts in the county attorney’s information, a jury would find him guilty of the crime.

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