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New York Man Arrested in Fire-Inspection Scam in Santa Barbara

Surveillance photo of Michael Angelo Carrion, who is accused of scamming a local restaurant by posing as a city fire inspector. (Contributed photo)

An arrest warrant has been issued for a New York man who allegedly defrauded a Santa Barbara restaurant by posing as a city fire inspector and demanding to be paid in cash, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Michael Angelo Carrion, 47, entered a restaurant at the city's north end and told the on-duty clerk he was a Santa Barbara city fire inspector, and was there to conduct an inspection, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.

"The clerk gave Carrion access behind the restaurant’s front counter, and Carrion spent the next few minutes inspecting the business’ fire extinguishers," Harwood said. "Following the inspection, Carrion presented the clerk with several receipts for service totaling in excess of $900, and informed the clerk that he was to be paid in cash."

The clerk phoned the restaurant's manager, who approved the payment from the cash register, Harwood said.

"When the manager later returned to the business and saw the receipts provided by Carrion, he realized that the inspection was a fraud," Harwood said.

Police Crime Lab technician Mike Ullemeyer recovered fingerprints from evidence at the scene that led to Carrion’s identification as the suspect in this case, Harwood said.

Detective Greg Hons subsequently discovered that Carrion had been arrested in Los Angeles by the California Highway Patrol in an unrelated case, and had been booked into Los Angeles County Jail.

Authorities there then learned that Carrion was wanted in New York, and he was extradited there, where he remains in custody.

"Once Carrion’s cases in New York are adjudicated, he will have to answer to for the crimes he committed here," Harwood said.

Harwood called the local case "an isolated event," but wanted to remind the public that the city does not charge a fee at the time of commercial or residential fire inspections, and Fire Department employees never accept cash as payment for services.

"If you are not sure if an individual is a Fire Department employee, ask to see identification or call the department directly at 805.564.5702," Harwood said. "Report any suspicious individuals or activity to the Police Department by calling 9-1-1.

The name of the restaurant involved was not disclosed.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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