LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — A man who built a quirky Mojave Desert compound known as Phonehenge West was sentenced to nearly 18 months in jail because he failed to pay for its demolition, Los Angeles County prosecutors said Friday.
Alan Kimble Fahey was ordered to pay more than $83,000 in costs incurred for the dismantling of the 20,000-foot labyrinth of interconnected structures and telephone poles. But Fahey has repaid just $1,250 to the county, the Los Angeles Times reported.
On Wednesday, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell questioned Fahey's claims of financial hardship before sentencing him to 539 days in jail.
After the ruling, Fahey's attorney Jerry E. Lennon said the nonviolent nature of his client's offense and his documented heart condition will likely make him eligible for early release.
The retired phone company technician was convicted of a dozen misdemeanor building code violations. Fahey never got building permits for the structures, which included a 70-foot tower, and authorities said the compound was a danger.
Prosecutors said it took four big-rigs to haul away 53 tons of telephone poles, and trucks hauled another 280 tons of debris.
Some had praised the compound 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles as an example of American folk art. The 70-foot tower had stained-glass windows and energy-producing windmills. There were nearly a dozen other buildings, including a replica of a 16th century Viking house.
Fahey had been defiant, saying authorities never should have forced him to tear down Phonehenge West. He added that his buildings are better constructed than the county courthouse he was convicted in.
Fahey said he did obtain building permits when he started Phonehenge West, but the county lost them.