Former Pleasanton wife and mother, , 43, pleaded no contest Friday to felony arson charges stemming from the December 2008 fire and explosion that destroyed her home on East Angela Street.
Zuffa was taken into custody and transported to the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin late Friday, following her hearing before Judge Stuart Hing, who accepted her plea, at the Hayward Hall of Justice, said Teresa Drenick, deputy district attorney for Alameda County.
Zuffa will be moved to the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla where a psychological study will be performed before her sentencing hearing tentatively scheduled for May 16, she said.
Hing ordered that Zuffa be evaluated in a professional diagnostic study in prison, and that a written set of sentence recommendations by psychologists and diagnostic staff be forwarded to the court, she said.
Three years in state prison is the maximum sentence that can be levied for the charges, Drenick said.
Zuffa was on charges of arson and possession of flammable liquids, accused by prosecutors of setting her home afire to avoid foreclosure.
Zuffa herself suffered serious burns in the fire—the origin of which remained a topic of much speculation among Pleasanton residents, many of whom rallied to the aid of Zuffa, her husband and their two then-school-aged sons, with fundraisers and clothing drives.
A notice of foreclosure eviction had been posted on the Zuffas' front door shortly before the fire was set, Drenick said.
The neighborhood around St. Augustine Catholic Church was rocked by the explosion, which occurred about 11 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2008.
Rescuers found Zuffa lying in the street with her clothes and shoes smoldering.
She sustained second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of her body. No one else was home at the time.
Zuffa spent months recovering at St. Francis Memorial Hospital.
Houses on both sides of the Zuffa property were also damaged by the blaze.
Zuffa’s former husband, Keith, prevailed in a , against his wife and various lenders, in which he stated that his wife was behind numerous refinancing and title changes to the Angela home, a bankruptcy filing, and that he was unaware of the pending eviction.
He alleged Deonna forged or misrepresented to him all the related bank, loan and court documents that led to the foreclosure.
In the civil case, Keith Zuffa was re-awarded the title to his property, which remains an empty lot save for a concrete slab foundation.
The couple has since divorced.