LANCASTER, Calif. – The man who built an eccentric Mojave Desert compound known as Phonehenge West was placed on five years' probation on Friday and ordered to serve 63 days community service, five of them at the county morgue.
It cost $83,488 to tear down Kim Fahey's structures on the 1.7-acre property in Acton, Los Angeles County prosecutor Patrick David Campbell told a judge during the sentencing hearing in Lancaster. Demolition was completed on March 20.
Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell told Fahey that he must pay $50 a month in restitution. He ordered a July 27 progress report.
The 59-year-old 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.
Campbell told the judge it took four big-rigs to haul away 53 tons of telephone poles. Trucks hauled away another 28 loads of debris weighing 280 tons.
Defense attorney Jerry Lennon was asked afterward why the judge ordered Fahey to work off five days of community service at the coroner's office.
"The judge thought it was an extreme fire danger and I guess she just wanted him to see dead people," Lennon said.
Fahey, who is indigent, had expected the sentence.
"He's kind of an existential guy. He's not distraught," Lennon said. "He's got an idiocentric personality, but he's charming."
The judge could have sentenced Fahey to as much as a dozen years in jail for defying authorities for decades as he created Phonehenge West out of everything from abandoned movie sets to discarded utility poles and other junk that nobody else wanted.
Some praised the compound 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles as a stunning example of American folk art. The quirky 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.