'Phonehenge West' builder is sent to jail over unpaid fines
This post has been updated. See below for details.
Alan Kimble Fahey, the eccentric Acton man convicted of building-code violations for constructing an elaborate complex dubbed "Phonehenge West," was sent to jail Friday for failing to prove he can’t repay thousands of dollars in fines and fees he owes Los Angeles County.
His bail was set at $100,000, prompting Fahey supporters to cry foul.
The court felt that the 60-year-old retired phone company technician was attempting to hide his true assets, said Fahey’s defense attorney Jerry Lennon.
[Updated, 8:20 p.m.: Fahey was released on bail Friday evening, friends and family members said.]
In May, Fahey was ordered to repay the county at least $83,488 and perform two months of community service. L.A. County Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell told Fahey, who lives on an $800 monthly pension, to repay the Department of Public Works $50 a month beginning June 1.She had also instructed him to meet with a financial evaluator to determine his ability to increase the amount of monthly restitution. In a phone interview before being taken into custody, Fahey said he met with the evaluator and produced three years of past tax returns and bank statements.
But the evaluator wanted more documentation and found “too many inconsistencies,” Lennon said. And the judge didn’t think Fahey had produced enough evidence to prove he wasn’t shifting assets and benefitting from a land trust in which his Acton property, on which the Phonehenge structure once stood, had been placed, the defense attorney added.
Fahey, who now lives in Tehachapi, said he felt he was being unfairly accused of misdeeds.
“I’m not hiding anything,” he insisted. “I’ve haven’t done anything wrong.”
Last year, Fahey was convicted of a dozen building code violations because he did not obtain proper permits to construct Phongehenge -- a 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected structures, some made from telephone poles -- which he spent some 30 years erecting. The highlight was a 70-foot tower.
County code enforcement officers argued that Fahey's creation wasn't structurally sound and was a fire and earthquake risk. He was ordered to vacate the property and tear it down. But Fahey failed to comply and in July 2011 he was sent to jail. Bail was set at $75,000. Fahey’s family managed to pay.
The county took over the Phonehenge’s demolition and completed it in March. County officials put the cleanup cost at $83,488.
“They issue is how is he going to pay,” Lennon said.
Fahey supporters worried about how he would foot the bail bill.
David Lewis was among those who showed up in court to back Fahey. They said they were “totally shocked” over the bail amount, and criticized the penalty as being "excessive" given the nonviolent nature of Fahey’s offense.
Lennon said he tried to get the bail amount lowered and requested that Fahey be released on his own recognizance, because “he’s not a flight risk.” His client had also been doing well completing the 63 days of community service he was ordered to perform, already serving more than 100 hours, Lennon said.
Pat Fahey said it was unclear whether the family would be able to come up with the bail prior to her husband’s next court hearing on Sept. 28.
“It’s awful,” she said.
-- Ann M. Simmons in Santa Clarita
Photo: Alan Kimble Fahey in front of "Phonehenge." Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times