LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The mother of a man suspected of setting dozens of arson fires made quite a stir in court Tuesday.
Dorothee Burkhart is wanted in Germany on 19 counts of fraud and for being part of a gang. According to Los Angeles federal court papers, most of the counts stem from allegations that Burkhart bilked apartment renters out of security deposits. She is now facing deportation.
The woman runs a business called Hollywood Tantra Massage, offering sensual massages on her website.
In court Tuesday afternoon, Burkhart kept demanding to see her son and said she feared that he was missing or kidnapped, possibly by German Nazis.
The judge informed her that her son, Harry Burkhart, was not missing. He was being held on arson charges in connection with fires set over the New Year’s weekend.
Burkhart said she needs time to hire an attorney, and does not want a public defender. She is due back in court Friday afternoon for an extradition hearing.
According to court papers, an arrest warrant was issued for Burkhart in Germany in 2007. She remains jailed pending extradition.
Harry Burkart, 24, was arrested early Monday in connection to 53 arson fires set around Los Angeles.
His mother’s own arrest last week may have led to his arson spree.
He reportedly barged into the courtroom last Thursday, upset that his mother was facing deportation, and began cursing loudly in English.
Police say someone in the courtroom recognized Burkhart in the arson fires surveillance video shown by news media and that person contacted authorities. Investigators pulled up Burkhart’s passport photo and were able to get a better idea of his physical profile.
A sheriff’s deputy used that information and identified Burkhart while he was driving in West Hollywood early Monday morning and took him into custody.
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