ARSON
A man accused of setting 52 fires is behind bars in Los Angeles. Image: TORBAKHOPPER/fLICKR/cc by

Los Angeles authorities are calling a 24-year-old German man “the most dangerous arsonist in LA history.” He is accused of setting 52 blazes in Los Angeles County over New Year’s weekend. It is believed he committed the crimes because he was upset over his mother’s court appearances, at which she faced being extradited back to Germany to face multiple criminal charges.

Fires set over the weekend

The fires were set near vehicles but spread to other structures. The fires caused thousands of dollars in property damage over the weekend.

Caught on tape

Harry Burkhart was recognized on a surveillance tape by an unidentified State Department agent, authorities said Wednesday. That agent contacted the LAPD. The agent’s involvement with the case against Burkhart’s mother led to the recognition.

Burkhart was arrested Monday and is being held on $250,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

Anti-American tirade

Burhart was present at his mother’s court appearance on Dec. 29. Before being escorted away by U.S. Marshals, he launched into an obscenity-peppered anti-American tirade.

German charges

German authorities said Wednesday that Burkhart is also suspected of setting fire to a home owned by his family in his native country. That blaze was set on Oct. 14, six days before Burkhart arrived in the U.S.

Immigration officials believe Burkhart is here on a visa that is set to expire in mid-January.

Charges against the mother

Dorothee Burkhart, Harry Burkhart’s mother, was also in court Wednesday for another hearing. She is facing possible extradition to Germany to face prosecution on 19 counts of fraud. One of those charges involved allegedly skipping out on paying for breast augmentation surgery.

Immigration status unknown

It is also unclear how she got into the United States. She could present no passport, but court documents indicate she was in Frankfurt, Germany in October. But immigration officials are saying those documents are incorrect and that the last time she entered the country was in 2007.

Mentally ill, mother says

Dorothee Burkhart told the judge in her case that her son is mentally ill.

Sources

MSN: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/04/9955647-german-man-charged-in-los-angeles-arsons
Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/01/la-arson-suspect-investigated-germany.html
ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/US/la-arson-suspect-court-wednesday/story?id=15277529#.TwTeemWP-_0

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