AIRPORT COURTHOUSE — A year after abruptly shutting down his high-end Wilshire Boulevard furniture store and leaving behind scores of angry customers who never received orders they’d paid for, Cozi Couch owner Arman Hazarian has pleaded guilty to false advertising and doing business without a license.
A judge this month ordered Hazarian to pay nearly $81,000 in restitution, gave him four years of probation and required him to perform 200 hours of community service. As part of his sentence Hazarian also was required to deliver furniture to eight customers who had already paid for their orders in full.
“This is probably the best resolution for the customers, which has been our main concern,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky, who heads the consumer protection division for City Hall.
Located at Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard, Cozi Couch went out of business in March 2009. More than 50 customers filed complaints about the company with the City Attorney’s Office, Radinsky said, prompting his office to begin an investigation in collaboration with the Bureau of Home Furnishings and the Santa Monica Police Department.
Radinsky said the Cozi Couch case serves as a reminder that customers should be wary of any business that asks for a 100 percent down payment on products or services to be delivered at a later date, especially if the business asks for payment in cash or by check instead of with a credit card, as Cozi Couch often did. Customers who pay by credit card can generally get charges reversed if goods aren’t delivered.
Hazarian was sentenced March 5 at the Airport Courthouse near LAX, bringing to a close a lengthy case the consumer protection unit began investigating in early 2009.
“It has been a very frustrating process for these customers who paid top dollar and also paid 100 percent down,” Radinsky said.
And it could still be a lot longer before customers who filed complaints get their money back.
Radinsky said Hazarian has “very little, if anything in the way of assets” and is paying the $81,000 in restitution in $500 monthly increments.
“It’ll be a slow process but we will pay back a portion of the money to as many people as we can,” Radinsky said.
Three managers who worked at Cozi Couch, Cori Iturribarria, Jaime Seoane and Nelson Freytes, pleaded no contest to operating without a business license and were placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.