Owner of car buried at Atherton estate reported it stolen, collected $87,000 in insurance: DA

Atherton police continue to investigate the discovery of a vehicle found buried in the yard of a home in the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Atherton police continue to investigate the discovery of a vehicle found buried in the yard of a home in the 300 block of Stockbridge Avenue in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

A man linked to one of San Joaquin County’s largest-ever insurance fraud schemes reported a Mercedes-Benz found buried at his former home stolen in 1992 and collected tens of thousands of dollars in insurance on the vehicle, according to San Mateo County authorities.

Johnny Bocktune Lew, who built the $15 million Atherton mansion where the car was unearthed last week, reported the Mercedes-Benz stolen in 1992 and collected $87,000 in insurance on the vehicle, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the San Jose Mercury News.

“This book has 15 chapters in it and we’ve only got two chapters,” Wagstaffe told the newspaper. “I don’t know if we’re ever going to get the other chapters, but I sure hope we do because it is an interesting story.”

Lew died in 2015.

A mansion is under investigation by police after a car was found buried on the property the day before, in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Three decades after a car was reported stolen in Northern California, police are digging the missing convertible out of the yard of a $15 million mansion built by a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and <a href=insurance fraud.” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/mj4RqcIVRrenaOtmsXJK6A–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTUyOA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the-stockton-record/26f85bb47127a8544d84d64bacd8366e”/>

A mansion is under investigation by police after a car was found buried on the property the day before, in Atherton, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Three decades after a car was reported stolen in Northern California, police are digging the missing convertible out of the yard of a $15 million mansion built by a man with a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud.

The convertible Mercedes-Benz filled with bags of unused concrete was discovered last week by landscapers in the affluent town of Atherton in Silicon Valley.

Cadaver dogs brought to the scene made “slight” notifications of possible human remains on three separate occasions, police said in a statement.

The car was removed from the home by a tow truck and transported Saturday to the San Mateo County Crime Lab for further inspection and processing. On Sunday, ground penetrating radar was used to examine the scene, the department said in a news release.

“This examination did not reveal anything unusual or suspicious at the scene and no human remains were located,” it said.

“This concluded our on-scene investigation,” the department added.

Investigators believe the car was buried 4 to 5 feet in the home’s backyard sometime in the 1990s — before the current owners bought the home.

Previous coverage: DA to prosecute huge insurance-fraud case

Related: Buried car found on property of Silicon Valley home linked to massive SJ fraud case

Lew had a history of arrests for murder, attempted murder and insurance fraud.

In 1999, he was accused of recruiting people from San Joaquin County to destroy his yacht, a sleek vessel more than 50 feet long, officials said. He paid undercover officers $30,000 in cash and gold watches valued at $20,000 to sink a $1.2 million yacht in part of an alleged insurance fraud scheme in what was at the time considered the largest single case of insurance fraud the state had seen, San Joaquin County authorities told The Record in 1999.

In the 1960s, Lew was found guilty of murdering a 21-year-old woman in Los Angeles County. He was released from prison after the California Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 1968, citing hearsay evidence that should not have been allowed at trial. Records showed that in 1977 Lew was convicted of two counts of attempted murder, also in Los Angeles County, and spent three years in prison, the Chronicle reported, citing court records.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on The Record: Owner of car buried at California mansion collected $87,000 insurance

Related Posts