Woman Gets State Prison for Involvement in Mahaffey Fires

CLEARFIELD – A Clymer woman was sentenced to state prison Monday after she pleaded guilty for her involvement with two Mahaffey fires in 2017.

The case against Catherine Amanda Burnheimer, 34, has been delayed her attorney Joe Ryan stated, because she has been battling breast cancer. She is currently in remission.

He argued for a county sentence for his client because she would have to deal with different doctors at the state prison but if she were in the county jail, she could be furloughed to attend appointments with the doctors who have been treating her.

Ryan also noted that if the cancer returns, they “would have to jump through hoops” to get her released.

First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo responded to this by saying the fires created a “dangerous situation,” which calls for a state sentence.

President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman commented that the fire at the first house was so severe it spread to a second home, which was also a total loss. He agreed that this is a serious matter with so many fire personnel responding to the call.

“As far as mistakes go, this is a whopper,” Ammerman said.

Ammerman sentenced her to 12 months to four years in state prison for criminal conspiracy/arson. She must pay over $28,000 in restitution.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Nov. 19, 2016, firefighters were called to a house fire at 215 W. Main St., in Mahaffey. This two-story wood-framed home burned completely to the ground.

The fire was so severe that it caused the home next door to also catch fire and this house was also a complete loss. Both residences were unoccupied.

A total of 81 firefighters from numerous area fire companies from four counties were called to fight the fire.

After an investigation, it was determined that the fire was arson and had been caused by an open flame or open flame device.

Approximately a month later, two witnesses reported that Burnheimer told them that she and Raymond Christopher Geer were responsible for the fire. She stated that she was the look-out while Geer lit the fire.

The home belonged to Geer’s uncle, Ronald Geer, who died just a few months earlier. Geer stated that he was incarcerated when his uncle passed away and wasn’t able to say goodbye.

When he talked about the fire, Geer said he used a lighter to set a pile of clothes on fire saying his emotions got the best of him.

In December of 2017, Geer, 31, pleaded guilty to arson, criminal conspiracy and 81 counts of recklessly endangering another person and was sentenced by Ammerman to four to 10 years in state prison. He was also ordered to pay over $28,630 in restitution.

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