Architect pleads no contest to blaze that killed firefighter

LOS ANGELES - An architect who designed and oversaw construction of a luxury home in the Hollywood Hills where a veteran firefighter perished in a blaze nearly three years ago pleaded no contest last week and was immediately sentenced to one year in county jail and probation.Gerhard Albert Becker, 49, pleaded no contest to one count of involuntary manslaughter involving a Feb. 16, 2011 blaze that claimed the life of Los Angeles firefighter Glenn Allen, 61. Allen, a firefighter of more than 36 years, was killed when a burning ceiling fell on him after firefighters responded to an alarm. His widow, Melanie Allen, told the judge that the family's lives were "ripped to shreds" when her husband was killed. Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Becker to three years probation and ordered him to complete one year in county jail as part of his probation. Judge Perry said he believed city building inspectors should have discovered problems in construction prior to allowing the home in the 1500 block of Viewsite Drive to be occupied. Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney, who prosecuted the case, opposed the sentence. He said that Becker, not the Department of Building & Safety, was responsible for building the multi-level home. He said Becker willfully ignored building codes and the manufacturer's warnings not to install an outdoor fireplace inside the home. Carney also argued that since Becker is a German national who will be deported immediately after he serves his jail sentence, there was no way to monitor his time on probation.

********** Published: Jan. 9, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 39