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Amish Bishop’s Grandson Pleads Guilty To Setting Fires

December 14, 1993

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ The grandson of an Amish bishop whose son served time for burning a neighbor’s barn pleaded guilty Monday to torching eight Amish barns in central Pennsylvania.

Darvin Ray Peachey, 23, of Belleville, pleaded guilty in federal court to setting the fires last year and then lying to investigators about where he was the night that six of the barns burned to the ground, killing 181 head of livestock. No one was injured in the March 15 fires, which caused $1 million in damage.

In a plea bargain, Peachey also agreed to plead guilty to state arson charges.

He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the federal charges and a maximum of eight years in prison on the state charge. Sentencing wasn’t expected until March.

Peachey told U.S. District Judge James F. McClure Jr. he didn’t know why he set the fires.

His ex-fiancee was with him in his car as he went from farm to farm with a propane torch and a supply of convenience store napkins.

Federal officials joined the investigation in part because of the possibility the Amish victims’ civil rights were violated.

Peachey’s ex-fiancee Judith Renee Walker and her mother, Betty Mae Walker, began cooperating with authorities last month.

Both previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and perjury for their roles in covering up the crimes.

Under the agreement, federal officials dropped a charge of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

In state court, where he had been charged with 21 arson-related counts, Peachey will plead guilty to one.

Peachey also must make restitution.

In 1965 Peachey’s father, Abraham J. ″A.B.″ Peachey, pleaded guilty to burning an Amish barn. He was fined $200, served three months in jail and was ordered to make restitution.

Peachey’s grandfather Daniel M. Peachey is an Amish bishop.