Crime

Scam artist faces years in prison for crimes in Santa Barbara County, state

Robert Musich scammed over 1,297 victims

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A West Covina man is expected to be sentenced to seven years in state prison after pleading guilty to multiple felony counts related to his operation of a fire equipment inspection scam.

Robert Lorin Musich will also be ordered to pay $502,189.91 in restitution to his victims and $86,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board for unpaid taxes, penalties, interest and the cost of the investigation.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office said the Musich admitted an aggravated white collar crime enhancement that alleged the loss of the victims of his scam exceeded $500,000.

The DA's office said the investigation into Musich's scam began when Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Eric Petersen contacted Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley after receiving an inquiry from a local business owner about an invoice he supposedly received from the fire department.

The report prompted authorities to warn the public of a fire inspection scam in Santa Barbara County. Residents were advised to be on the lookout for invoices being sent to local business from a company called Red Mountain Security and Fire Protection or RMS.

Eventually, several more victims came forward with invoices claiming the business owner owed $413.11 for inspections of fire equipment at their business that the DA's office said never took place.

During the investigation, Musich emerged as the suspect and on September 1, 2016, he was arrested in Pomona, California.

Over 1,297 victims were scammed throughout the state by Musich, according to the District Attorney. The loss of those victims totaled $502,189.91. When Musich was arrested, authorities discovered boxes full of hundreds of fraudulent invoices with envelopes ready to be sent out to businesses.

“I want to commend the responsiveness of Chief Petersen as well as the vigilance and hard work on the part of Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota and Supervising Investigator Chris Clement," said Dudley. "Through their efforts, Mr. Musich has been held accountable for his crimes, both in Santa Barbara County and throughout the State of California. Additionally, further victimization of business owners throughout California has been prevented.”

The DA's office said Musich was on probation in Nevada while he operated his scam in California for charges stemming from the same type of scam in Nevada.

After serving his time in California State prison, Musich will be extradited to Nevada where he faces another three years in state prison for crimes there.

Musich will be sentenced in Santa Barbara County on June 28, 2017.


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