The co-owner of an Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks has been arrested on a child pornography charge after allegedly hiding tiny video cameras in the women’s restroom and recording customers as they used the facilities, police said.
Bahram Javaherian, 65, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing child pornography, a felony, and was released on $20,000 bail. Javaherian has been the co-owner of the Cucina Bene restaurant in the 4500 block of Sepulveda Boulevard for 11 years, said LAPD Van Nuys division Det. Eric Rose.
Los Angeles police searched the restaurant and Javaherian’s home on Tuesday and found videos that show children and adults using the single-person restroom, Rose said.
He said Javaherian admitted to putting the cameras in the bathroom for more than seven months, and admitted to taking the videos home to watch them.
Tiny cameras in the restroom
Police began investigating Javaherian when a restaurant employee found one of the cameras and turned it over to police, Rose said.
Javaherian used velcro to attach the tiny cameras, the size of a flash drive, to the bottom of the sink, Rose said. “Other times he would put it under the other dispensers -- toilet seat cover dispensers, paper towel dispensers.”
One of the videos police found shows Javaherian installing the camera in the bathroom, Rose said. There’s no evidence that he put cameras in the men’s restroom.
Hiding cameras in the restroom, as police allege, is a misdemeanor, Rose said.
But “you have mothers go in there with their daughters and that sort of stuff,” Rose said. Those images and videos elevate the alleged crime to possession of child pornography, which is a felony.
Four-star Yelp rating? Maybe not for long
Cucina Bene’s website boasts a “Friendly atmosphere! To us, our guests are like family, and we treat each one just the way we’d like to be treated – with open arms, warm smiles, and delicious food.”
Now, though, diners looking for Italian options on Yelp will see warnings about the cameras mixed in with reviews about the flatbread pizza and live music. Since KCBS-TV reported Javaherian’s arrest Tuesday night, people have already added one-star reviews citing the news to the restaurant’s Yelp page.
“It’s a convenient location, but we’ll find somewhere else,” Michelle Jackman told KCBS.
Neither Javaherian nor a restaurant representative could be reached for comment Wednesday morning.