- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) - Authorities have charged the owner of a Watford City restaurant and an employee with torching the business to collect insurance money.

Owner Anna Marquardt, 37, and employee Lisa Stoll, 28, face felony arson and insurance fraud counts in the June 29 blaze that destroyed TJ’s Pizza & Suds. They could enter pleas at a Sept. 15 hearing.

Investigators say they retrieved surveillance video from a computer that survived the fire that shows Marquardt and Stoll using candles to start the fire in a storage area in the ceiling of the women’s bathroom, after drinking at the restaurant’s bar following closing time.

Authorities allege the video shows Stoll on a ladder and Marquardt handing her lighted candles, and that it also shows Marquardt placing a suspected glass candle beneath a counter. The fire started in the storage area about five hours after the women left the building, according to investigators.

Marquardt filed an insurance claim last week. The two women were charged Monday and arrested Tuesday. In interviews with police, Stoll and Marquardt denied being on a ladder or accessing the storage area, according to the Williston Herald.

Marquardt faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted and Stoll up to 40 years. No one answered the telephone Wednesday at a listing for Marquardt. A telephone listing for Stoll was disconnected. Court documents don’t list attorneys for either woman.

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