N.Y. FF admits to 8 felonies, fraud totaling nearly $60K

Prosecutors describe Robert Johnson Jr.'s actions as schemes to get car loans and a credit card through identify theft


Aaron Besecker
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Buffalo firefighter pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight felonies involving what prosecutors said were three schemes to obtain car loans and a credit card through identity theft, as well as the theft of more than $12,000 from a bank using a fake check.

Robert Johnson Jr., 36, pleaded guilty two days before jury selection for his trial was slated to begin, the Erie County District Attorney's Office said.

Johnson used a juvenile's social security number and fictitious employment and earnings information in his applications with a local credit union for two car loans and a credit card in July and August 2016, prosecutors said.

The credit union approved the two loans and Johnson purchased vehicles with a combined total value of $41,000. He also obtained a credit card with a $20,000 limit.

A little more than a year later, according to prosecutors, the vehicles were repossessed for nonpayment and the credit card account was closed with a balance of more than $20,000.

Johnson also used someone else's social security number and other false information on two auto loan applications in December 2017, according to the District Attorney's Office. Those applications were rejected.

He also deposited a forged check for more than $12,000 into his bank account in January 2017 and withdrew most of the money.

Johnson pleaded guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Paul Wojtaszek to three counts of first-degree identity theft, two counts of attempted first-degree identity theft, and single counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud.

He signed a confession of judgment saying he owed $59,748 to the bank and credit union, the District Attorney's Office said.

Johnson's employment status could not immediately be determined Wednesday morning.

Johnson, who remains released on his own recognizance, is scheduled to be sentenced as a two-time felony offender on July 26. He faces a maximum of four years in prison.

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(c)2022 The Buffalo News

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