Prison Sentence For Arsons

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SUNBURY -- An accused arsonist in Northumberland County was sentenced in connection with a series of fires in Shamokin.

A judge sentenced James Neidlinger to spend up to seven years in state prison.

Neidlinger must also pay back $77,000 in restitution to the victims of the arsons.

The Northumberland County judge sentenced Neidlinger to spend three and a half to seven years in state prison, thinking if he gets out sooner than later he can pay back that money faster.

Some of those victims were in court this morning.

Neidlinger was all smiles as he left the Northumberland County Courthouse in Sunbury.  He was just sentenced to state prison in connection with several arsons in Shamokin.

Neidlinger was accused of setting three fires in his hometown, one in September of 2012, and two in January of  2013.

Neidlinger pleaded no contest to three counts of arson which means he does not admit to setting the fires but he was sentenced as if he had.

His sentence includes orders to pay $77,000 in restitution.

Barbara Frazier owned one of the houses that was torched in Shamokin   and says she has trouble sleeping at night because of what happened.

"I just see flames and fire," she said.

Frazier and several other victims of the arsons came to Neidlinger's sentencing in Sunbury.

William Fennessey says his mother's home burned down and the family lost a lot of important things.

"Old clocks plus all my dad's medals, awards and things, all went up in that fire."

"Now I lost all this money tearing the building down, money I put into it for renovating it.  I just can't get over it," Frazier added.

The sentence was on the lighter side because the judge says he wants to get Neidlinger out working as soon as possible in order to pay back all that restitution.  But some of the victims tell Newswatch 16 they don't think they'll see any of that money.

"Probably not a penny," Fennessey said.  "But hopefully three and a half years in jail straightens him out a little bit, and he can come out of there maybe rehabilitated and be a good citizen."

"Jail isn't the best place to be but if you do the crime, you spend the time.  That's what he's going to do," said Frazier.

Once James Neidlinger gets out of state prison he will be on probation for two years.

He did not apologize to the victims inside the courtroom.