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'Phonehenge' builder must perform community service, repay county

Alan Kimble Fahey, whose elaborate home complex was considered a work of art by many, must do two months of community service and repay L.A. County at least $83,488.

May 19, 2012|By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
  • Alan Kimble Fahey is pictured in April 2011 next to his elaborate "Phonehenge West" structure in Acton, which has since been demolished. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ordered the retired phone company technician, 60, to perform two months of community service and repay the county at least $83,488.
Alan Kimble Fahey is pictured in April 2011 next to his elaborate "Phonehenge… (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles…)

An Acton man convicted of building-code violations for constructing an elaborate home complex dubbed "Phonehenge West" was ordered by a judge Friday to perform two months of community service and repay Los Angeles County at least $83,488.

Alan Kimble Fahey, 60, a retired phone company technician, was found guilty last June of a dozen building code violations because he did not obtain proper permits to construct the ornate Acton property, which many of his supporters considered a work of art.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell ordered Fahey to perform 63 days of community service, "of which a minimum of five days must be served at the L.A. County or Kern County morgue," Mitchell said. In addition to the $83,488, he must pay still-to-be-calculated fines and court fees.

Fahey, who was forced to tear down Phonehenge, now lives in the Kern County city of Tehachapi.

"I feel it was an enormous waste, not only of the county's time but of taxpayer money," Fahey said of his prosecution. "Why do I have to go to a morgue for five days … for a treehouse?"

Fahey's attorney, Jerry E. Lennon, noted that the judge chose not to give Fahey serious jail time and that some fines may be reduced when he completes his community service.

Fahey's sentencing was delayed at least half a dozen times because of illness or the judge's decision to grant him additional time to demolish Phonehenge. He said he was pleased to finally get a judgment because it would allow him to move forward with an appeal. Lennon confirmed he would file paperwork on Fahey's behalf within the next week.

Fahey spent almost three decades constructing Phonehenge, a 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected structures, some made from telephone poles. The highlight was a 70-foot tower. Fahey, his wife, Pat, and his teenage son, Leo, lived in a building he called "the barn." Shelves and rafters contained more than 20,000 books and a mountain of curios that Fahey planned to put inside a museum, library and gift shop. Turkeys, chickens and a peacock were among the livestock that roamed the yard.

County code enforcement officers argued that Fahey's creation wasn't structurally sound and was a fire and earthquake risk. In August, workers began to tear down the unpermitted buildings.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick David Campbell told the court Friday the demolition was completed March 2. During a three-week period, the county transported four truckloads of telephone poles totaling 53 tons and steel and debris weighing 280 tons. The cleanup cost the county $83,488, Campbell said.

The judge ordered Fahey, who lives on an $800 monthly pension, to repay the Department of Public Works $50 a month beginning June 1. She also instructed him to complete a financial evaluation form in order to determine his ability to increase the amount of monthly restitution. The Acton property — now in foreclosure — should also be listed, Mitchell said.

"It saddens me that Kim's dream of 30 years has been destroyed by the county," said Bill Guild, vice president of the Antelope Valley Truckers Assn. and among the dozen or so supporters who attended the sentencing. "I go back to the county's motto, 'To enrich lives through effective and caring service.' Tell me, whose life has been enriched? The coffers of L.A. County has been enriched."

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