I feel so much safer since this man is behind bars now - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-29-2007, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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I feel so much safer since this man is behind bars now

RHE man gets jail time <br>for property fixes

He built a fence, a retaining wall, a patio and a few concrete columns to decorate his driveway, and now Francisco Linares is going to jail for it.

Linares had been given six months to get final permits for the offending structures or remove them as part of a plea agreement reached in January, when he pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor counts of violating the Rolling Hills Estates building code.

If he failed to do one or the other, Linares faced six months in county jail.

On Monday, Torrance Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson chastised Linares, a Farmers Insurance district manager, for not completing what he agreed to do in January and then handed him the maximum sentence without possibility of house arrest or probation.

"Imagine my disappointment to find we are no further along in resolving these issues," Thompson said. "At the rate we're going, we'll still be talking about this at my retirement party."

Linares is scheduled to report to county jail Sept. 10.

"I'm not scared," Linares said about spending time in jail. "It's just very unfair. The city said they wanted to teach me a lesson because they thought I wanted to get away with a lot of stuff."

Richard Hamar, Linares' attorney, said he has never heard of anything like this.

"We're talking about fixing a fence that was on city property," he said. "He didn't build a Las Vegas casino. You put a guy in jail for six months because he repaired the city fence?"

The 51-year-old bought the nearly 1-acre property in the 4600 block of Palos Verdes Drive North in 1998. After tearing down an adobe house on the site and building a 3,000-square-foot French-style home, he began landscaping.

When Linares asked the city to repair the white three-railed fence behind his house, he was told it was on his property and his responsibility. So he replaced the termite-infested planks. Then the city reversed itself and said Linares had illegally built the fence on city property.

In October 2004, the city charged Linares with three misdemeanors: for not taking down the fence, having a retaining wall built higher than a 2-foot restriction and for erecting stone columns without a neighborhood compatibility analysis. Later inspections found eight other violations, including a lack of permits for plumbing and grading.
"He's had a couple of years to correct the problems," said Dean Pucci, a Fullerton attorney contracted as the city's prosecutor. "His options were to obtain final permits or remove all of these structures built without permits."

Linares lives in the house with his wife and three daughters. He contends that he didn't remove the structures because he believed the permits would be approved.

However, Pucci said no permits are pending, since Linares failed to resubmit an application that was deemed incomplete.

At the sentencing, Hamar said his client was a good Christian man who has never committed a crime and who worked diligently - 142 hours - to try to resolve the issues with the city.

And the only reason he was not able to complete the stipulations of the plea agreement, he said, was because of the city's confusing building codes and negligence in rendering a decision on his permit applications.

"We established that he did everything that was humanly possible to comply. And the un-rebutted evidence is that (the city) hasn't ruled on the permits," Hamar said. "To … do something as harsh as put a good man in jail for six months, you got to look at the impact on society. What will society gain if you put this man in jail?"

The prosecutor, however, said, "In virtually every city in every county a violation of the municipal code is a crime."

Hamar said he plans to appeal.

"I'm praying that there will be an appeal and that my dad won't be sentenced to jail," said daughter Vanessa Linares, 18. "My dad is the backbone of our family. How would we be able to hold up if he's not here?"
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 12:41 AM
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 01:55 AM
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That report lost any credibility with the sentence beginning:
'Then the city reversed itself...'
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