The former owner of a high-end custom furniture store with locations in Santa Monica and Los Angeles has been sentenced to four years of probation for false advertising and operating a business without a license.
Arman Hazarian, former owner of Cozi Couch, pleaded guilty to four criminal charges in Los Angeles Superior Court March 5th, Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky said. Under a plea agreement with the city attorney’s office, Hazarian will provide refunds and merchandise to former customers totaling more than $100,000, Radinsky said.
The city attorney’s office filed the charges against Hazarian in October after dozens of customers in the Santa Monica and Los Angeles stores had paid thousands of dollars each for custom furniture that was never delivered, Radinsky said. The Santa Monica store, formerly located at Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard, went out of business in March 2009.
Most customers paid 100 percent down, by cash or check, for furniture that was to be designed and built at a later date.
As part of the court-ordered sentence Hazarian must pay cash restitution to former customers in the total amount of $80,856, which 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 previously reimbursed by their credit card companies.
Under the agreement, Hazarian had furniture made and delivered to eight of the former customers to satisfy their claims, and he was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, Radinsky said.
Three managers of the Santa Monica store were also sentenced to perform community service. Cori Iturribarria, Jaime Seoane, and Nelson Freytes each pleaded no contest to operating without a business license and were placed on probation.
The city attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit had been investigating Cozi Couch 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 complaints of more than 50 customers and reviewed the company’s records, Radinsky said.
City attorneys caution consumers to avoid making substantial down payments when possible, and to never pay a business 100 percent down by cash or check, noting that it is difficult to dispute the charges.
“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.”