BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A former Buffalo Police officer who abused the power of his badge and went behind the backs of the people he swore to serve and protect is fighting to avoid prison time.
Johnnie Fritz is a retired 25-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department. According to the U.S. Attorney, Fritz used his police connections to let his friend know if he was the target of a drug investigation.
The U.S. Attorney also says Fritz accepted money to help a man avoid traffic tickets. Plus he was convicted of avoiding paying sales tax on his used car business.
But the latest crime Fritz pleaded guilty to is mail fraud, for making a fake insurance claim including fake receipts. When his plot was unraveling, Fritz asked witnesses lie on sworn affidavits. The U.S. Attorney said Fritz used his power as a police officer to obtain a DMV car look-up service for free, which set his scheme in motion.
The plot cost insurance companies $63,700.
But Fritz’s attorney is fighting to keep him out of prison because of a long list of health problems.
“Because of his significant health problems, if he’s incarcerated he’ll most likely be in the Bureau of Prisons’ hospital for any period of time he’s incarcerated. And especially if he needs surgery, if he does need surgery it will have to be performed in the Bureau of Prisons,” said defense attorney Jim Harrington.
Even though Fritz pleaded guilty to this one scheme, the U.S. Attorney says he tried doing something similar two other times while he was an officer.
The plea bargain Fritz agreed to would carry between 15-21 months in prison. Sentencing was delayed until July 30th.