A man was arraigned Tuesday for posing as a fire marshal and charging small businesses across Orange County – including Huntington Beach and Garden Grove – for fraudulent inspections. Brian Lee Carsten, 36, Newport Beach, is charged with four felony counts of second degree burglary, four felony counts of extortion by force or threat, four felony counts of forgery of an official seal, four misdemeanor counts of fraudulently personating fire personnel, and two misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm in violation of a protective order. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in state prison. Carsten is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Friday in North Justice Center, Fullerton.
On Aug. 31, 2016, Carsten is accused of entering Beach Auto Sound in Huntington Beach while wearing a uniform and identifying himself as a fire marshal. The defendant is accused of charging the victim $209 for his fraudulent inspection of the business and providing a bill and receipt on Cal-Fire letterhead.
On Sept. 12, 2016, Carsten is accused of entering State College Distributors in Anaheim, representing himself as a fire marshal, and performing a fraudulent inspection of the business. The defendant is accused of threatening the victim with a citation if he did not pay for the inspection. Carsten is accused of returning to the business the following day with forged invoices and receipts and collecting two payments of $209 for each lot from the victim. The victim reported the suspicious circumstances to the Anaheim Police Department (APD) later that week.
On Sept. 16, 2016, Carsten is accused of conducting similar fraudulent inspections at Newport Awning and Imperial Auto Service, which are neighboring businesses in Santa Ana. The defendant is accused of extorting $209 from each business and providing receipts with forged Cal-Fire logos.
The victims in Huntington Beach and Santa Ana saw media coverage of the fraudulent inspection in Anaheim and reported the crime to their local police departments.
On Sept. 23, 2016, Carsten is accused of possessing two firearms in violation of a domestic violence protective order from Los Angeles. Carsten was arrested by the Anaheim Police Department.
Anyone with additional information or who believes he or she may have been a victim is encouraged to contact District Attorney Investigator Tom Conklin at (714) 347-8496.