LA arson suspect held on $2.85M bond

Jan. 4, 2012 at 11:53 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Hollywood arson suspect Harry Burkhart was ordered held on $2.85 million bond on charges of setting blazes in what a prosecutor called a "campaign of terror."

Burkhart, 24, who appeared Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, faces 37 felony charges of setting fire to cars and properties in Los Angeles over New Year's weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"A campaign of terror has ended and that was with the arrest of Harry Burkhart," Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said.

A Los Angeles arson investigator wrote in an affidavit that the arson spree was motivated by Burkhart's "rage against Americans," CNN reported. The day before the arsons began, the investigator noted, Burkhart had shouted "F--k all Americans" in a federal courtroom on the German government's request for his mother's extradition to face fraud charges.

His mother left Germany in October to come to California, where she lived with Burkhart in a Hollywood apartment, CCN said, citing court documents and authorities.

Arguing that bail be denied, Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney noted Burkhart had shouted an expletive against American at his mother's hearing.

Judge Upinder S. Kalra rejected prosecutors' request the Russian-born German national be denied bail.

Because of the "amount of harm he did to the psyche in these communities," Cooley said he believed the crimes warranted a life sentence, calling the offenses "almost attempted murder."

No one was injured in the blazes, which authorities estimated caused as much as $3 million in damage.

A criminal complaint said the fires were "caused by use of a device designed to accelerate the fire," which could increase the sentence, the Times said.

Burkhart is under investigation for alleged arson and fraud in his native Germany, a German prosecutor said.

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