Owner Of Cozi Couch Convicted, Sentenced In Santa Monica Case

March 15, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Adam Radinsky, Deputy City Attorney

310-458-8327

Arman Hazarian, the former owner of Cozi Couch, a high-end custom furniture store with locations in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, has pled guilty to four criminal charges after a prosecution by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office.

The Santa Monica store, formerly located at Seventh and Wilshire, went out of business in March 2009. By that time, dozens of customers had paid thousands of dollars each for custom furniture that was never delivered. Customers of the Los Angeles store had similar problems.

Most customers paid 100 percent down, by cash or check, for furniture that was to be designed and built at a later date.

Hazarian pled guilty to false advertising and doing business without a license and was sentenced at the LAX Superior Court on March 5, 2010. Under a plea agreement with the City Attorney’s Office, Hazarian will provide refunds and merchandise to former customers totaling more than $100,000.

The court-ordered sentence included these terms:

Hazarian was placed on probation for four years.

He must pay cash restitution to former customers in the total amount of $80,856. This amount will be divided proportionately between the approximately 45 former customers of Cozi Couch who paid cash or check and did not receive merchandise that was promised. (Customers who paid by credit card were already reimbursed by their credit card companies.)

Hazarian had furniture made and delivered to eight of the former customers to satisfy their claims.

            Hazarian will perform 200 hours of community service.

Hazarian’s three managers of the Santa Monica store were also sentenced to perform community service. Cori Iturribarria, Jaime Seoane, and Nelson Freytes each pled No Contest to operating without a business license and were placed on probation.

The City Attorney’s Office originally filed the charges against Hazarian and the other men in October 2009.

The City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit had been investigating the company and its owners dating back to early 2009. Consumer Affairs Specialist Paula Rockenstein, working with the state Bureau of Home Furnishings and the Santa Monica Police Department, investigated the customer complaints and reviewed the company’s records. More than 50 former customers filed complaints with the City.

“This case is a cautionary tale for consumers in two ways,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky. “First, paying 100 percent down before an item or service is delivered is very risky. Second, paying by cash or check means that there’s no way to dispute the charges and get a refund if things go bad.”

Credit card charges can be reversed if merchandise is not delivered.

The City Attorney’s Office cautions all consumers to avoid making substantial down payments whenever possible – and to never pay a business 100 percent down by cash or check.

“Our primary goal has been to get the maximum possible value in the form of money and merchandise back to the former customers of Cozi Couch,” Radinsky said. “We are confident that this agreement resulted in the best outcome available to us for the former customers.”

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