SANTA ANA, Calif. – A computer engineer who faked his death to avoid child molestation charges was sentenced in federal court for triggering an unnecessary Coast Guard search and identity theft.
Daniel James Farinholt, 46, was sentenced Monday to a year of prison for each of the two felony counts, to be served concurrently with a 10-year sentence he received last year for child molestation.
Farinholt's case started in May 2002, when he abandoned his boat off the El Segundo coast after placing a distress call and staging a bloody crime scene. Authorities believed he was lost at sea, though two days of divers' searches failed to turn up a body.
Eventually, officials realized Farinholt had missed his pretrial hearing on four felony counts of sexual assault on a child under 14. The hearing date, May 23, was the day after he went missing.
Farinholt was arrested in January 2005 after he was discovered working under an assumed name for a computer company in Boise, Idaho. Idaho police said they were tipped by a person who saw his photo on the "America's Most Wanted" Web site.
The Coast Guard said the bogus distress calls put rescue crews at risk and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
In court Monday, Farinholt spoke about the crimes, which he had pleaded guilty to last month.
"I understand the seriousness of the crimes, and the charges, and I plan to make full restitution as soon as I can," he said.
Farinholt will have to pay restitution of $29,419 to the Coast Guard and L.A. County Fire Department. He'll also have to register as a sex offender after his release.