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California man sentenced to 12 years in prison in Las Vegas arson, extortion case

Posted at 12:51 PM, Feb 09, 2018

A California man will spend the next 12 years behind bars after he was convicted of a conspiracy to burn down a local business and extortion in Las Vegas.

53-year-old Joel Kenneth Ausbie was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit arson and one count of committing extortion by force of threat or injury.

According to the Department of Justice, Ausbie paid a 35-year-old man named Joseph Strickland to fire a gun into the home of Ausbie's estranged wife's parents' house. He wanted to force his wife to return money that he believed belonged to him. Since he couldn't find his estranged wife, who was in hiding, he targeted her family.

Strickland went to the parents' home on Oct. 20, 2015, around 1 a.m. and shot a revolver six times into the residents while there were people inside. He also threw vice grips into a window with a note threatening to kill the family. 

Ausbie and another man, 42-year-old Calvin Robinson, then sent a series of text messages to the parents threatening to kill them. Strickland was also recruited by Ausbie to set fire to the parents' business in Henderson and leave a note demanding money and threatening death.

Robinson gave Strickland the note and directions to the business. Strickland then set fire to the business and left the note on Oct. 30, 2015. The blaze forced the location to permanently close. 

Ausbie also recruited Strickland to set another fire to the second location of the parents' business in Downtown Las Vegas, but law enforcement arrested Ausbie before he was able to pay Strickland. The second arson never happened.

Strickland pleaded guilty to charges related to the case and was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while Robinson was sentenced to nine years in prison.