Nov. 22—ELKHART — A Nappanee man has received a 96-year sentence for setting eight barn fires in Elkhart County last year.
Joseph Hershberger, 42, was sentenced Monday in Elkhart Superior Court 2 after pleading guilty in October to eight counts of Level 4 felony arson.
The 96-year sentence represents the maximum punishment for each count of arson, though his actual prison time has been capped at 50 years per the terms of his plea agreement. The remaining 46 years have been suspended and will be served on probation.
In addition, a ninth count, Level 3 felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor, was dismissed as part of the sentencing agreement.
The series of barn fires were started in Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall and St. Joseph counties between April and October of 2021. Eight of the fires were in Elkhart County, according to police.
Cellphone data placed Hershberger’s phone at the scene of several of the fires, according to court records. He was arrested in December.
Hershberger’s girlfriend, Sherry Thomas, was also charged last year in Elkhart County with eight counts of arson in the barn fires. Her case is still pending.
Hershberger still faces pending arson charges in Marshall and Kosciusko counties for additional fires he allegedly set in those counties.