News: 2012 Press Release
For Release: May 9, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Arrest of Van Nuys Real Estate Agent, Mission Viejo Man for Arson, Conspiracy
$1,400,000 Potential Loss Allegedly Included Fine Art
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced the arrests of Max Astan, 61, a Mission Viejo resident and Maryann Khosravizadeh, 45, a Van Nuys real estate agent for multiple felonies related to an arson fire that destroyed property owned by Astan. Bail for Astan has been set at $1,000,000 and $325,000 for his accomplice.
"The lengths that these suspects took to defraud insurers are deplorable," said Commissioner Jones. "I commend the Detectives of my Department and the investigators of the insurance company for bringing these alleged conspirators to justice."
According to California Department of Insurance (CDI) Fraud Division Detectives, on April 29, 2009, Astan's insurer submitted a suspected fraudulent claim, filed by him, to CDI. The claim was for the loss of personal property that was destroyed as a result of an arson fire on June 20, 2008 at his residential rental property in Granada Hills.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department's investigation classified the fire as suspicious and later determined to be arson. Astan claimed he furnished and kept personal property at his rental property described as artwork, collectibles, Persian rugs and fine paintings. Due to the high value of Astan's personal property claim, $260,000, the fire being ruled as arson, and that the property was claimed to be kept at a rental property inhabited by a tenant, the insurer investigated this claim as suspicious. The House Hold Furnishings coverage on the rental property insurance policy was $300,000. The replacement value of the structure was estimated by the insurer to be $937,822.
According to Astan, many personal items were destroyed including four paintings, two 17th century oil paintings on canvas and two 18th century oil paintings on canvas. Astan represented to the insurer that the combined value of these four paintings was $147,500. The paintings became the focus of the insurer's investigation given that in September 2008 the insurer discovered that the paintings were incorrectly named and in the possession of two different art galleries at the time of the fire.
Two of the paintings were for sale at the Los Angeles Fine Arts Gallery and the other two paintings were for sale at the Asdourian Gallery in Corona del Mar. On September 25, 2008, the insurer covertly purchased two of the paintings from the Los Angeles Fine Arts Gallery. The investigation revealed that Astan never owned or was in possession of any of the four paintings in question and merely photographed the four paintings while they were on display for sale at an art gallery 20 miles from his Mission Viejo home.
On February 19, 2010, the insurer denied Astan's insurance claim, due to Astan's material misrepresentations and filing a fraudulent claim to obtain benefits he was not entitled to.
CDI's investigation revealed that Astan obtained a new insurance policy from the same insurer on January 9, 2008 that included a $300,000 liability for personal property while he still had a separate insurance policy in force until March 2008. His previous policy had personal property coverage limited to $70,000; however, his policy was for an owner occupied property only, therefore he obtained a new policy.
In February 2008 Astan rented his home to Khosravizadeh, a licensed real estate agent, who obtained a renter's insurance policy in the amount of $300,000 for personal property loss. On June 20, 2008 the fire occurred with Khosravizadeh as the primary arson suspect. Both Khosravizadeh and Astan filed corresponding insurance claims; $239,100 was paid to Khosravizadeh for the loss of her personal property from the fire and Aston attempted to file his $260,000 loss for his personal property. All of their personal property was alleged to be inside the home and destroyed by the fire. Astan's claim included a $937,822 claim for the damage to the structure and was denied based on providing material misrepresentations to the insurer. The total potential loss from both insurance claims was over $1,400,000.
On March 1, 2011, CDI Detectives served a search warrant at the residence of Astan in Mission Viejo and a quantity of Opium was seized in addition to other items of evidence from his residence. On May 3, 2012, the Los Angeles County Superior Court issued an arrest warrant for Astan for violating Penal Code Sections 182(a)(1), Conspiracy, 550(a)(1), Knowingly present a fraudulent claim, 550 (b)(1), Knowingly assist and conspire to present written/oral statement in support of a fraudulent claim, 136.1(c) (1), Intimidation of a witness, 422 (a) Terrorist Threats, and for violating Health and Safety Code Section 11351, Possession or purchase for sale of a controlled substance.
On May 4, 2012, Astan was arrested at his residence in Mission Viejo and was booked into theLos Angeles County Jail.
On May 3, 2012, the Los Angeles County Superior Court issued an arrest warrant for Khosravizadeh for violating Penal Code Sections 451 (b), Arson, 182 (a)(1) Conspiracy, and 550(b)(1), Knowingly assist and conspire to present written/oral statement in support of a fraudulent claim. On May 8, 2012, Khosravizadeh was arrested at her residence in Van Nuys and booked into the Los Angeles County Jail.
This investigation was conducted with the assistance of Travelers Insurance Company. This case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.