Hollywood arson suspect's mom denied bond

Story highlights

  • Germany wants Dorothee Burkhart extradited on fraud charges
  • Prosecutors say her arrest sparked her son's arson binge
  • "My son is mental ill," she tells reporters Tuesday
  • "Criminal Nazi groups in Germany" want her dead, Burkhart says
A federal judge ordered that the mother of the German national charged in a series of Los Angeles fires be held in jail until a court decides whether she will be extradited to Germany to face fraud charges.
Dorothee Burkhart, handcuffed and shackled, addressed reporters while waiting for the judge to enter the courtroom for a hearing in her extradition case Tuesday afternoon.
"How do I look like? Like a bitch? Humiliation, the next step," Burkhart said.
Burkhart, a 53-year-old German national who lived in Chechnya, defended her 24-year-old son, who was charged last week with 37 counts of arson in connection with 52 fires in Los Angeles.
"He's not capable to do," she said. "My son is mental ill. He can't act alone."
She also spoke to Harry Burkhart's court-appointed lawyer was sitting in court.
"Try to bring him to a hospital," she said. "Otherwise, he can become very, very sick."
The hearing itself was filled with awkward exchanges between Burkhart and U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Nagle.
"You have the right to send me back to Germany to be killed? That's what you said?" Burkhart asked Nagle. "That's not what I said," Nagle replied.
Nagle finally ruled that Burkhart would be held without bond until her extradition hearing because she was a flight risk. She is a German citizen with no ties to Los Angeles, she said.
"It's a little bit stupid," Burkhart told the judge. "I'm fighting against going to Germany, because in Germany I will be killed."
She said "criminal Nazi groups in Germany" want her dead for money, although she was not allowed to elaborate.
Her next hearing was set for January 25, but it will likely be another month before a judge hears a probable cause hearing to decide whether Burkhart will be returned to Germany to face 16 counts of fraud and three counts of embezzlement.
The charges include an allegation that she failed to pay for a breast enhancement operation performed on her in 2004, court documents said. Most of the German charges, however, stem from phony real estate deals that Dorothee Burkhart allegedly conducted from 2000 to 2006.
Dorothee Burkhart was arrested a day before the fires started on an international arrest warrant issued by a district court in Frankfurt, Germany, court documents said.
Prosecutors said the son's "rage against Americans," triggered by his mother's arrest, motivated his "campaign of terror" with dozens of fires in Hollywood and nearby communities.
The arson spree began on December 29 with a car fire in Hollywood that spread to apartments above a garage, and no new fires have happened since Burkhart was arrested a week ago, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said.
No one was hurt in the fires, but property damage is likely to reach $3 million, authorities said.