Angela Street arsonist gets one-year sentence | May 18, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 18, 2012

Angela Street arsonist gets one-year sentence

Psych evaluation recommended probation

by Glenn Wohltmann

The woman who set her home and herself on fire in a December 2008 arson at her East Angela Street home was sentenced Wednesday to a year in county jail but could be out in months.

Deonna Zuffa, 43, will serve her time at Santa Rita Jail, but has already served 167 days. Zuffa was seriously burned in the explosion and fire that destroyed her family home, the same day an eviction notice was posted on her door.

She initially pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment on charges of arson and possession of flammable liquids with intent to start a fire. She changed her plea to no contest on March 9 and was found guilty of a single count of felony arson that day.

Zuffa faced up to three years for the charge; in exchange for her guilty plea, she was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation at Chowchilla Women's Prison. That evaluation led officials to recommend probation, not prison, for her because they did not see her as a danger to the community.

It took investigators two years to bring charges, although Zuffa was home alone at the time of the fire and an officer saw her run from the house with her clothes and shoes on fire. Despite that officer coming to the rescue, she suffered second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body and was treated at St. Francis Memorial Hospital's Bothin Burn Center in San Francisco.

Zuffa and her husband Keith filed for bankruptcy in June 2008, six months before the fire. Court records show she forged her husband's signature on a number of financial documents, accumulating debt without his knowledge, and that either he nor the couple's two sons knew about the eviction.

In addition to the one-year sentence, Zuffa was ordered to pay restitution for the three homes damaged in the fire, including hers, which was destroyed.