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Buffalo teen pleads guilty to filing false insurance claim after vandalizing his own vehicle

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Posted at 12:08 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 16:33:44-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo teen has pleaded guilty to filing a false insurance claim after vandalizing his own vehicle.

According to the district attorney's office, the 19-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud in the third degree Thursday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Previous versions of this story identified the defendant. He has since been granted youthful offender status.

The teen spoke with 7 Eyewitness News in October 2020 after his 2004 BMW was found on Saranac Avenue with racial and homophobic slurs painted on it and said at the time "I never thought that happens, I thought that was stuff that happened in movies."

The original Facebook post showing the vandalism was shared hundreds of times, with many comments alleging the damage was staged, by the teen himself. Something he rejected when speaking with 7 Eyewitness News at the time.

"Who would do that to their own vehicle?" the teen asked, "Who does that? Nobody does that to their own car. How are you going to get around now if you do that to your car?"

But prosecutors say that's exactly what he did, he was arraigned on the insurance fraud charge in November 2020.

About a week later, the teen was observed by Buffalo Police leaving a running car unattended on Erskine Ave. Police say when they caught up with him, he was found to be driving without a license and had two loaded and illegal firearms on him. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree in connection with that incident Thursday.

He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced October 5. The district attorney's office says he failed to appear at a previous court date and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. When he was located his previously posted bail was revoked and he was remanded. Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case ordered he remain held without bail pending his sentence.