Arson Was Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Porn Shop Owner Says

     TACOMA, Wash. (CN) – Competition between porn shops grew so fierce that the owners of one of them paid an arsonist to burn down the other, its owner claims in a federal RICO complaint.
     Levi Bussanich, owner of Desire Video, sued Adult Video Only aka Cindy’s Bookstore and a host of its affiliates and owners on March 25.
     Other defendants include Daniel and Donna Cossette, Michael and Linda Wright, the Cossette and Wright Partnership, Jeremy Coughlin, and convicted arsonist Mark Fuston.
     The Cossettes and Wrights are husbands and wives.
     Fuston was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for burning down Desire Video.
     Though Bussanich accuses the Cossettes and Wrights of paying him to do it, none of them were indicted.
     Bussanich says police conducted a years-long investigation and eventually arrested Fuston with help from an undercover informant.
     Prosecutors said Fuston placed an incendiary device at the store, and when it failed to work he lit a gasoline trail.
     “Defendants’ cover up was of such magnitude that law enforcement worked the case in secret for years-all but giving up-until one of the conspirators and wrongdoers, Ken Courtney, turned against his fellow conspirators and became a federal informant,” according to the civil complaint.
     “Plaintiffs were the victim to defendants’ unlawful actions when his adult novelty business, plaintiff Desire Video, located at 4811 NE 94th Ave. Vancouver, WA, was intentionally burned to the ground.”
     The store burned in 2003. Fuston was sentenced 10 years later, in 2013.
     “(T)he sole motive for this crime was money,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Gruber said in a sentencing document. “Defendant Fuston was paid in cash for torching the building, and the underlying purpose was to take out another business that was in direct competition with his associates. This was definitely not a case of unrestrained moral outrage or some misguided attempt to protect the community from pornography or the societal ills that can be connected to that industry. Rather, Mark Fuston’s singular goal was to get paid. And the motivation of those paying for the arson was to increase or at least protect their own profits from their similar competing business located less than a mile down the road.”
     Bussanich says he did not know his competitors were involved until Fuston was arrested.
     “Law enforcement secretly believed that defendants Daniel Cossette, Donna Cossette, Michael J. Wright, and Linda M. Wright, in their individual and official capacities, had hired and directed Ken Courtney’s illegal actions for the purpose of destroying competition of defendant The Bookstore, Inc., defendant Adult Video Only, Inc., and defendant AAV Ltd.,” the complaint states.
     Courtney, who is not a defendant, “turned against his fellow conspirators and became a federal informant,” according to the civil complaint.
     The business owners were not charged criminally, but Bussanich hopes to recoup civil damages for RICO violations.
     He says in the complaint that the owners used laundered money from illegal marijuana sales and unreported cash proceeds from video arcades to pay Fuston for torching Desire Video.
     “In hindsight, it is obvious that Defendants Daniel Cossette, Donna Cossette, Michael J. Wright, Linda M. Wright, Adult Video Only, Inc., The Bookstore, Inc., AAV Ltd defrauded the Internal Revenue Service, burnt down plaintiffs’ business, as well as attempted to do so to others, grew marijuana illegally, and committed all acts as stated herein, repeatedly over the course of decades, as a part of their illegal racketeering enterprise or association in fact to destroy competition and attempt to monopolize profits and industry,” according to the complaint.
     Bussanich is represented by Andrew Mazzeo with Taylor Law Group in Tumwater, who did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
     A message left at the Adult Video Only website was not immediately returned.

%d bloggers like this: