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Man Sentenced to 2.5 to 5 Years for Torching Motel Room

October 30, 2017

Contact: Rose E. McHugh, 215.348.6317, remchugh@buckscounty.org

Timothy Koebert
     Timothy Koebert

A 60-year-old man who set fire to a Doylestown motel room in hopes of being sent to jail was sentenced Friday to serve two and one-half to five years in state prison.

Timothy J. Koebert had pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 to arson and related charges. He admitted setting fire on Feb. 2 to his room in the Main Street Inn, causing more than a quarter-million dollars in damage, injuring a firefighter and endangering several other first responders, hotel employees and guests.

Koebert twice had been scammed out of his life savings and faced the loss of his Warminster condominium to foreclosure. Fearing he would be homeless, he said, he set the fire out of desperation.

“I can’t take back what I’ve done,” Koebert told Bucks County President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley, who imposed the sentence. “I never meant to hurt anyone. That wasn’t my intention at all. I’m just sorry, judge.”

Police and firefighters were alerted to the fire shortly after midnight on Feb. 3. Koebert had checked into the motel three nights earlier. Surveillance video showed him coming and going from Room 122 several times before and after midnight, and finally driving away in his vehicle.

Police located Koebert through the driver’s license he had used to check into the motel. He acknowledged putting his clothes on the floor of his room, dousing them with lighter fluid and setting them on fire. When his first attempt failed, he returned to re-ignite the clothing.

Additional security video showed Koebert purchasing kerosene and camp fuel at a WalMart store in Warrington on Jan. 28.

A Doylestown firefighter suffered second-degree burns from the fire, which endangered first-responders, motel workers and 10 guests, court documents said.

Finley had delayed the sentencing to allow for a mental health evaluation.

According to the judge, the evaluation found that Koebert had intellectual and social challenges, and had lived with his mother for most of his life. After his mother moved into assisted living, an exotic dancer fleeced him out of all his money, Finley said.

After his mother had died, Koebert purchased a condominium with his inheritance and with savings he had replenished by stocking shelves at night in a Doylestown grocery store.

Then he fell victim to a Megabucks lottery scam that again tricked him out of his money and left him deep in credit-card debt. He has since lost his home to foreclosure proceedings.

“You thought you had to do something to get put into jail?” asked his attorney, Chief Deputy Public Defender Joseph S. Haag.

“Yes,” Koebert said.

Finley called it “really a sorry statement” that Koebert felt compelled to commit a crime in order to have a place to live, adding that Koebert’s “intellectual limitations” may have affected his decision. Still, the judge said, the crime was so serious that it demanded a state prison sentence.

Finley accepted a negotiated sentence recommended by Haag and Assistant District Attorney Rose E. McHugh. In addition to the prison time, the sentence calls for five years of consecutive probation.

Koebert also was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to the owner of the motel, and $229,522.31 to an insurance company that covered most of the losses.

The case was investigated by the Central Bucks Regional Police Department and prosecuted by McHugh.

Approved for release by Thomas C. Gannon, Deputy District Attorney.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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