Johnstown man pleads guilty to homicide after 2020 house fire

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CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Johnstown man has pleaded guilty to third-degree homicide after his wife was killed in a house fire in 2020.

Gregory Z. Clem, 65, also pleaded guilty to causing/risking a catastrophe. He agreed to a sentence of 11 to 22 years in prison.

Gregory Clem’s wife, Sheila Clem, died on Sept. 5 from her injuries in a house fire on Aug. 24, 2020. Sheila called 911 to tell operators that her husband had set the house on fire, according to court documents.

An investigation from the Fire Marshal ruled the nature of the fire as arson and found evidence that an accelerant was used in the kitchen and dining room area to start the fire.

Gregory and Sheila’s children requested that Gregory received a lighter sentence, according to Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer. The Commonwealth recommended a longer sentence in light of the fact that Gregory’s actions took a life and placed first responders in grave danger.

“This is truly a sad situation,” Neugebauer said. “Mr. Clem’s daughters lost their mother as a result of his actions that night. I appreciate the respectful manner in which the daughters approached me and my office to seek a lighter sentence. My heart goes out to them, as well as others who loved Mrs. Clem. Given the gravity of Mr. Clem’s actions, and in accordance with my obligations to the victim of this crime, my fellow citizens, and other stakeholders, a sentence where Mr. Clem faces the possibility of decades in jail is what justice demanded.”

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Sentencing will take place in October.

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