Fire marshal impersonator gets 6 months in jail

Brian Lee Carsten pretended to be a fire marshal to extort money out of businesses with fake inspections


By Chris Haire
The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A 37-year-old Newport Beach resident who last week pleaded guilty to impersonating a fire marshal and charging businesses for fraudulent inspections was sentenced Monday, Sept. 18, to six months in jail.

Brian Lee Carsten will serve his sentence in Orange County Jail and then will be on probation for three years, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. He must pay back the money he took from the businesses.

Carsten was charged with five felony counts of extortion by force or threat.

Over a two-week period in August and September 2016, the D.A.’s Office said, Carsten went to businesses in Huntington Beach, Anaheim and Santa Ana; he pretended to be a fire marshal to extort money out of them with fake inspections.

Carsten charged the owner of Beach Auto Sound in Huntington Beach $209 for an inspection; threatened the owner of State College Distributors in Anaheim with a citation and then collected two payments totaling $418; and, finally, received another $209 each from Newport Awning and Imperial Auto Service.

The invoices and receipts he gave the businesses had forged Cal Fire logos, the D.A.’s Office said.

The businesses in Huntington Beach and Santa Ana reported Carsten to police after seeing media reports of the Anaheim case, the D.A.’s Office said. On Sept. 23, 2016, Anaheim police officers arrested Carsten after finding him in possession of two firearms, which violated a domestic violence protective order against him.

Cartsen also pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of impersonating fire personnel and one misdemeanor count of “possession of a firearm in violation of a protective order,” the D.A.’s office said.

Copyright 2017 The Orange County Register

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