San Jose Woman Admits to Setting Fire, Faking Assault as Cover for Embezzlement

A San Jose woman found bound and gagged inside a burning Saratoga office last year was arrested this week on suspicion of arson and stealing more than $600,000 from her employer and various financial institutions.

Janice Carlstrom was tied up and had a broken nose and a cut on the back of her head when firefighters arrived at about 9am Nov. 4, 2019, to the burning offices of Pollack Investments in Saratoga, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

At the time, Carlstrom, 74, told authorities that she didn’t know who assaulted her or set the fire. She was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The sheriff’s office began investigating and found that Carlstrom had allegedly stolen more than $44,000 from her employer, Pollack Investments.

More fraud was also discovered that allegedly involved Carlstrom, totaling more than $580,000 from multiple financial institutions, the sheriff’s office said.

The suspect’s thumbprint was reportedly found on a critical piece of evidence involving the arson and the county crime laboratory also confirmed the accelerant that burned several items at the crime scene.

When Carlstrom was interviewed this week by sheriff’s detectives, she admitted making fraudulent payments and setting the fire to conceal evidence, according to the Sheriff's office. She also confessed to making up a story about being assaulted by an unknown suspect, authorities said.

The investigation is ongoing, the sheriff’s office said. Carlstrom was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of arson, embezzlement and forgery.


  1. I don’t know why this thread is under the story of 74 yr old woman. I know the family through my children HS. She and , her WHOLE family were staples of support . There is tragedy in this family , this I know, not my call to discuss . Whatever she felt necessary , I can tell you,it was for love of her family. It’s sad that people are driven to desparate measures . Regardless of misguided transgressions , this family has always been the 1st to step up whenever and support the HS , REGARDLESS of their child’s involvement , the KIDS needed it and they did not hesitate to roll up their sleeves. Please do not pass judgement, this is a tragic story of a really.really good family.

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