No jail time for retired Buffalo cop with prior convictions

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 will not spend any time behind bars.

Johnnie Fritz was sentenced Wednesday to 10 months home confinement for mail fraud. He was also ordered to pay $6,400 in restitution to his victims.

The 49-year-old is a retired 25-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department. The U.S. Attorney says Fritz used his police connections to let his friend know if his friend was the target of a drug investigation and accepted money to help a man avoid traffic tickets.

Fritz was convicted of mail fraud for making a three fake insurance claims in 2009, including fake receipts. When his plot was unraveling, Fritz asked witnesses to 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.

Fritz’s attorney fought 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. In 2011, Fritz was convicted of fourth degree grand larceny and failure to keep records under the New York State Tax Law for his failure to pay State of New York sales tax receipts related to his automobile dealership.

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