Houman Fakhimi

Six Arrested in Multimillion-Dollar Art Theft in SoCal

Less than an hour outside of Anaheim, millions of dollars worth of paintings, jewelry and wine were reportedly heisted from the home of a bond trader, who offered a $1.7 million reward for the return of his belongings.

Now, as Anaheim Criminal Defense Lawyer Houman Fakhimi understands, six people have been arrested in connection with the case, charged with grand theft, possession of stolen property and receiving stolen property. The person facing the most serious of charges faces up to nine years in prison.

The case reads more like the Thomas Crown storyline than a news story. Only in this version, the masterminds are collared, even though it took several months to do it. Apparently, it was a family affair.

According to The Los Angeles Times, a 43-year-old with an extensive criminal background is believed to have broken into the Santa Monica residence sometime between Sept. 12 and Sept. 13. It's unclear what connection the defendant has to the alleged victim, if any.

The value of the items taken were estimated at somewhere between $3.5 million and $10 million. After taking numerous valuables inside the home, investigators say the suspect returned several hours later on the advice of a 45-year-old accomplice, who went with him the second time, to take a 2010 red Porsche Carrera that was in the garage. The defendant's mother and two brothers were also arrested for reportedly helping to conceal and attempt to sell the items. Two others are also charged with conspiracy and receiving stolen items.

The case received a great deal of media attention primarily due to the price tag of the items taken, as well as the monumental award offered for their return.

A tip led Santa Monica police to serve a search warrant reportedly discovered the most of the pieces at a small auto sound system garage, where the 45-year-old worked as the manager. Other paintings were found at residences of those later arrested. Those pieces have since been returned. One of the most valuable pieces, a Mondrian called "Composition (A) En Rouge Et Blanc," was allegedly in the process of being sold by the suspected thieves when police discovered it.

Bail for each defendant was set at $10 million.

Although the discovery was made shortly after the theft, it took officials several months to piece together the investigation and make these arrests.

Most burglaries and theft crimes in Anaheim won't garner near as much attention. However, the consequences could still be just as serious, particularly if you are found to be working closely with a group of individuals or a gang in order to carry out the thefts.

The strategy our criminal defense lawyers employ depends on the kind of theft charged - and there are many possibilities. For example, grand theft under California Penal Code 487 is when you take another person's property valued at over $950. Petty theft is the taking of someone's property under $950. One of our approaches to having a grand theft charge reduced is to challenge the actual value of the item taken. This can mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor - which is the difference between up to 1 year in jail or several years in prison.

There is also receiving stolen property and appropriation of lost property. These crimes involve taking items that you know to either be stolen or lost with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of them. In these cases, we often work to prove that our client was not aware the items were stolen or lost, as this is a critical element of these charges.

Even in cases where the evidence against you seems substantial, we are skilled negotiators when it comes to plea bargains and in securing the lowest possible sentence for the lowest possible category of crimes.