Man charged in Shamokin arsons pleads no contest, gets six years
SUNBURY - An accused arsonist will spend more than six years in state prison after pleading no contest Friday to three felony counts of arson.
James L. Neidlinger Jr. entered the plea before Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest and will be sentenced at 9:15 a.m. Monday, April 28.
County conflicts counsel John Broda, who serves as Neidlinger's attorney, said a pre-sentence investigation will be conducted to determine the amount of restitution owed by his client.
By pleading no contest to arson involving bodily injury to a firefighter, arson involving the danger of bodily injury and arson involving an unoccupied building, Neidlinger is neither admitting nor denying guilt, but realizes enough evidence exists that could cause him to be convicted at trial.
All other charges in the case will not be prosecuted.
Assistant district attorney Michael Toomey said Neidlinger is facing a state prison sentence between 36 and 48 months and five years consecutive probation on the arson-related offenses. He also must serve a 3 1/2 to 7-year sentence imposed by Wiest last year for having his supervision revoked after committing the arson offenses. Neidlinger was on supervision after pleading guilty in a forgery case in Shamokin prior to the arsons.
Toomey previously said a psychiatric evaluation performed on Neidlinger determined he is competent to stand trial. Last month, Wiest agreed to separate the arson cases.
Neidlinger, 22, of Shamokin, who has been incarcerated since Jan. 29, 2013, at Northumberland County Prison in lieu of $250,000 cash bail, is charged by Shamokin Patrolman and Fire Investigator Raymond Siko II with intentionally setting fires at 717 N. Shamokin St. Sept. 5, 2012, the former Hardshell Cafe and an adjacent building in the 400 block of North Shamokin Street Jan. 24, 2013, and a triple home in the 600 block of East Sunbury Street near Franklin Street Jan. 28, 2013.