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The Region

September 04, 1987

The owner of the Landmark Hotel, known as a stopping-off point for celebrities in the 1920s, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of hiring a real estate appraiser to burn down the once-opulent brick structure in Ontario. Gabriel Torquato of Van Nuys is accused of hiring Charles E. Smith of Canoga Park to light the fire that eventually destroyed the hotel. The 76-room hotel had been ordered closed for numerous building and fire code violations and was vacant when it burned April 14. According to the indictment, Torquato purchased the property in May, 1986, artificially inflated its value and insured it in February for $1.2 million.

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