LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An extradition hearing for the mother of a man suspected of setting dozens of fires in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley over New Year’s weekend has been pushed to May 17.

The hearing for Dorothee Burkhart, 53, was originally scheduled for Thursday. She is fighting extradition to her native Germany, where she is wanted on a host of fraud charges.

Attorneys for both sides are expected to argue before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick, who rejected a request to free Burkhart on bail pending Thursday morning’s proceedings.

The woman has described herself as the sole link between her “mentally ill” son, Harry, and “the outside world.” Her 24-year-old son faces trial on dozens of arson-related charges stemming from the series of fires that terrorized Los Angeles over four nights at the start of the year.

Her arrest pending extradition is thought to have sparked the arson rampage allegedly committed by her distraught son, her only child.

An attorney for Harry Burkhart asked Eick in court papers last week to temporarily suspend the extradition proceedings on the grounds that the mother is a key witness in her son’s case.

Dorothee Burkhart is accused in Frankfurt of subletting apartments that she did not own, failing to pay rent and security deposits on other locations, and defrauding a cosmetic surgeon out of about $10,000 for breast augmentation surgery for which she never paid, according to court papers.

The extradition process can take upward of a year, federal prosecutors said.
Harry Burkhart faces 100 felony charges related to 49 blazes set between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2. Most of the fires began in automobiles but usually spread to homes in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and surrounding areas.

His bail has been set at $7.5 million. A trial date has not been set.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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