2011-05-20 / Community
Former Simi cycle shop owner charged with multiple felonies
A former Simi Valley businessman was arrested last week on 17 felony charges, including fraud, and the amount he allegedly stole from victims—in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars— continues to climb.
On May 12, Arman Castillo Gevorkian, 43, was booked on nine counts of grand theft, six counts of receiving stolen property (motor vehicle), one count of auto theft and one count of forgery.
“Since his arrest, we’ve been flooded with phone calls from the public—people saying thank you for arresting him but more importantly also other victims coming forward,” said Simi Valley Police Detective Sgt. Robert Arabian, supervisor of the property crimes division.
“The case is still being investigated,” he added. “As the public keeps giving us a call we keep following these leads and he could potentially face more charges.”
According to a police report, SVPD had an ongoing, extensive investigation into Gevorkian, the owner of County Line Cycles—a custom motorcycle builder and parts retailer formerly located at 185 Easy St. in Simi Valley.
Police began investigating him for fraud, grand theft, auto theft and forgery in mid-2009 after receiving reports from victims, Arabian said. The sergeant said it takes several years to bring these kinds of cases to resolution due to all the paperwork and information detectives have to process.
At about 7 a.m. May 12, Simi detectives served a search warrant at Gevorkian’s home in the 28200 block of Canyon Crest Drive in Canyon Country and at an industrial unit in the 26500 block of Ruether Avenue in Santa Clarita, where he’d moved his shop after being evicted from the Simi location for not paying rent, Arabian said.
In line with his “shady” business endeavors, Arabian said, this shop had no outside signage.
When officers searched the two locations, they recovered several items of evidence, including a stolen 2008 Smart Car as well as computers and files.
According to police, Gevorkian’s fraudulent activities have been going on for the past two years and have involved several victims who lost thousands of dollars as a result of his scams. The amount was initially reported as upwards of $50,000. That number is now in excess of $400,000.
“It’s going to keep climbing. It’s going to be $500,000 by the end of the week,” Arabian said.
Several Harley Davidson motorcycles are included in the loss reported by victims. Arabian said Gevorkian’s “Ponzi scheme” often involved his promising to purchase a bike for a client, perhaps at a great price. The person would pay Gevorkian for the bike, which was never delivered.
“ So a lot of people who (thought) they bought a motorcycle really didn’t,” the sergeant said.
Thanks to an anonymous tip, Arabian said, police recovered another stolen motorcycle on Adam Road on Tuesday. The person who had the motorcycle bought it without knowing it was stolen. He is now another victim in the case.
When asked how many people have been victimized by Gevorkian’s scams, Arabian ballparked it at more than 25. But he said the phone keeps ringing and some who call don’t want to give their information.
“I’m going to bet there’s more than 100 people that have been defrauded, just not all of them have come forward,” Arabian said.
Gevorkian was arrested and booked at Ventura County Main Jail. At press time he was still in custody, in lieu of $1 million bail. His arraignment is set for May 24.
Simi Police encourage the community to deal only with licensed vehicle dealers when consigning a vehicle for sale.
Arabian said many of the victims could have protected themselves simply by checking with the Department of Motor Vehicles, since those who buy or sell cars or motorcycles are required to have a license from the DMV.
“The important thing for the residents is make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company and legitimate shop,” Arabian said. “Don’t give money away for items you haven’t physically seen, and make sure you have paperwork. Many of these people did it on a handshake, which makes it very hard to file a lawsuit or prove a transaction took place.”
The detective also offered this simple but time-tested piece of advice: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”