Brian Lee Carsten
SANTA ANA – Posing as a fire marshal and charging small businesses for fraudulent inspections landed a Newport Beach man in jail. Brian Lee Carsten (37) entered multiple businesses throughout Orange County in August and September of 2016 while wearing a uniform and representing himself as a fire marshal.
Providing a bill and receipt on Cal-Fire letterhead, he charged Beach Auto Sound in Huntington Beach $209 on August 31st for a his fraudulent inspection of the business.
On September 12th, the next hit was State College Distributors in Anaheim. Carsten threatened to cite the victim if he did not pay, returned the next day with forged invoices and receipts, and collected 2 payments of $209 for the two lots.
The Anaheim business reported the suspicious circumstances to the Anaheim Police Department (APD) later that week.
The defendant then conducted similar fraudulent inspections on September 16th at neighboring Santa Ana businesses – Newport Awning and Imperial Auto Service. He extorted $209 from each business and provided receipts with forged Cal-Fire logos. His two victims saw media coverage of the fraudulent inspection in Anaheim and reported it to their local police.
On September 23, 2016, Carsten was found in possession of two firearms in violation of a domestic violence protective order, and arrested by APD.
APD, Anaheim Fire & Rescue, Huntington Beach Police Department, Huntington Beach Fire Department, and Santa Ana Police Department investigated the case.
Carsten plead guilty to the following charges: 5 counts of felony extortion by force or threat, 5 misdemeanor counts of fraudulently personating fire personnel and (1 count) possession of a firearm in violation of a protective order.
Carsten was sentenced September 18th to six months in county jail, three years of formal probation, and ordered to pay restitution.
For besmirching the uniform, Carsten turned in his costume for less impressive prison garb.