Light sentence for firebug's DUI

The man who torched the historic fire chief’s residence after an alleged lover’s quarrel will toil for one day in the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office work program, among other punishments.

Prosecutors say Lance Farber, 48, toppled furniture and smeared tomatoes on the walls of the historic residence he shared with newly hired Planning Director John Rahaim on Feb. 22 before igniting a mattress in the home.

Farber was later pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence on U.S. Highway 101 in San Mateo County.

On Tuesday, San Mateo County Judge Richard Livermore sentenced him to three years of probation for drunken driving after Farber pleaded no contest to the charges as part of a plea deal.

Livermore also ordered the chiropractor to serve one day in the sheriff’s work program, pay fines totaling $1,851 and attend a first-time DUI offenders class, Deputy District Attorney Elaine Tipton confirmed.

The misdemeanor sentencing came one day after San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Ron Albers sentenced Farber to three years supervised probation, including a 90-day residential treatment program for alcohol abuse.

Farber will also have to pay restitution estimated at nearly $50,000 to repair the Dennis T. Sullivan Memorial Fire Chief’s Home on Bush Street, District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erica Derryck said.

The sentence was dictated by a April 3 plea deal in which Farber pleaded guilty to two felony charges — unlawfully causing a fire that caused a structure to burn and vandalism. In exchange, prosecutors dropped two felony counts of arson, an additional count of vandalism and a misdemeanor charge of violating a court order.

Randall Knox, Farber’s defense attorney, said Tuesday that he believed the current damage estimate from the Fire Department was excessive.

“I think they’re remodeling the whole building,” Knox said. “They did a lot of work where you could not attribute the damage to Mr. Farber.”

San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said Tuesdaythat she is expecting the final bill for $45,141 to arrive this week. She said most of the costs were attributed to labor and repairing smoke damage. Farber’s restitution amount will be finalized July 18 in San Francisco Superior Court.

Knox said Farber was glad to put the matter behind him. “He’s not a criminal, he just did something very stupid, honestly, and he regrets it,” he said.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

Billed for the burn

A final tally, expected this week, will total $45,141 for the damage to the Dennis T. Sullivan Memorial Fire Chief’s Home on Bush Street. The work to be done includes:

» Sanding hardwood floors and stairs

» Repairing other fire and water damage

» Hardwood-floor replacement

» Repair walls

» Repaint smoke, water and physical damage on ceilings, walls and doors

» Apply polyurethane to hardwood floors on first and second floors

» Remove existing carpet and padding due to fire damage and vandalism

» Install new carpet and pad in the upstairs bedrooms, hallway and stairs from second to third floor

Sources: SFFD, SFDPW

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