3 June – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A former Manhattan Beach man who faked his own death on a boat anchored off the Southern California coast – apparently in order to avoid prosecution on child molestation charges – has been indicted on federal charges of causing the Coast Guard to conduct a search when no help was needed.
Daniel J. Farinholt, 44, was named in a one-count indictment returned yesterday afternoon by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.
The indictment alleges that Farinholt staged his death on a boat called the Rock’N & Reel’N by intentionally cutting himself, dripping blood on the deck of the boat and abandoning the boat while it was anchored in waters off the shore of El Segundo. On May 24 and 25, 2002, soon after the boat was discovered abandoned, the Coast Guard, the Redondo Beach Police Department, the El Segundo Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department conducted search and rescue operations that yielded a diver’s weight belt on the sea floor near the water intake pipes of the El Segundo Power Plant, but no sign of a victim.
While the search was underway, investigators learned that Farinholt failed to appear for a May 23 court hearing in Orange County, where he was facing child molestation charges. Based on this and other information, the search was called off and a missing persons bulletin issued.
Farinholt was a fugitive from the Orange County case until January 18, 2005, when he was found and arrested under an assumed name in Boise, Idaho. He was taken into custody after a friend’s mother saw his picture on the America’s Most Wanted website.
Captain Peter V. Neffenger, Commanding Officer, United States Coast Guard, Los Angeles – Long Beach, stated: “False distress or hoax calls place the Coast Guard’s men and women in harm’s way when they respond in ships and aircraft to such calls. These false calls also waste taxpayer money and more importantly, divert resources from our other critically important missions, including maritime homeland security and legitimate search and rescue cases.”
Farinholt is currently in custody in Orange County, where he is scheduled to be tried on the child molestation case later this month.
The charge of causing the Coast Guard to needlessly conduct a search carries a maximum possible penalty of six years in federal prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Redondo Beach Police Department, the El Segundo Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney William W. Carter