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Architect gets 1 year for death of firefighter in ceiling collapse of LA home he built

Posted Jan 3, 2014 2:50 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An architect pleaded no contest Friday to involuntary manslaughter in an unusual case over the death of a firefighter in a luxury California home he designed and built in Hollywood Hills.

Gerhard Becker was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation in the Los Angeles Superior Court case over a Feb. 16, 2011 fire. Prosecutors had sought a maximum four-year jail term for Becker, who is in his late 40s, according to CBS Los Angeles.

After the death of firefighter Glenn Allen, 61, who was fatally injured when a ceiling collapsed, an investigation determined that Becker, a German architect, had installed a substandard natural gas fireplace in the 12,000-square-foot home that caused the 2011 blaze.

The fireplace included an outdoor firepit that was not supposed to be used inside, installed in a tiled wood-and-drywall frame that was not as fireproof as a brick or metal box, as an earlier ABAJournal.com post details. The installation also provided only 18 inches of clearance, instead of the eight feet called for by the manufacturer of the firepit, and lacked firebreaks.

Becker's actual time behind bars is expected to be about four months and he is expected to complete his probation in Germany, reports KTLA.

The L.A. Now page of the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) and the LA Weekly also have stories.

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