On October 9, 2017, a structure fire occurred at Kustom Built, an automotive customization and repair shop located at 900 S. Magnolia Ave. in the City of Monrovia. The initial cause of the fire was determined to be intentionally set.
After a 17-month joint investigation, conducted by the Verdugo Fire Investigation Task Force, multiple suspects were identified in a conspiracy to commit arson and commit insurance fraud.
On March 21, 2019, a coordinated search warrant was executed in the early morning hours, arresting five people at five different locations. Investigators and officers from the Pasadena Fire Department; Pasadena Police Department; Arcadia Fire Department; United States Marshals Service; Los Angeles City Fire Department; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; National Insurance Crime Bureau; California Department of Insurance; and the Los Angeles Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) were all involved in the operation.
On March 25, 2019, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed 10 felony counts including: conspiracy to commit arson, arson of a structure, arson of property, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and using a device to accelerate a fire on defendants Alan Sosa, Delmy Diaz, and Daniel Garcia.
To date, over $200,000 in insurance claims have been filed for the vehicles that were in the auto shop. The total loss as a result of the fire and criminal activity is estimated at over $4 million. Insurance adjusters calculated this estimate in the early stages of the investigation. The estimate included the total loss of the structure, which contained five separate businesses. The structure sits vacant to this day.
Defendant Sosa is currently being held at Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Inmate Reception Center, with bail set at $425,000. Defendant Garcia is being held at Men’s Central Jail, and his bail is currently set at $1.425 million. Defendant Diaz is being held at Century Regional Detention Facility, with bail set at $425,000. Their next scheduled court appearance will be on April 11 at Pasadena Courthouse in Department D.
“Investigators with the Verdugo Arson Task Force led a thorough and sustained investigation, collaborating with several partner agencies. This fire devastated several local businesses, so to see the individuals responsible be formally charged is very rewarding. Our communities are very fortunate to have this well-organized and highly-capable task force working hard on our behalves,” says Monrovia Fire Chief Brad Dover.