Financial institutions

Buffalo firefighter pleads guilty to illegally obtaining money from financial institutions

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office said Robert Johnson, Jr defrauded financial institutions on claims using a minor’s Social Security number.

BUFFALO, NY — The Erie County District Attorney’s Office said a Buffalo firefighter pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight counts of fraud.

Robert Johnson, Jr., 36, pleaded before his jury trial which was due to begin later this week.

According to the press release, between July 2016 and August 2016, Johnson applied for two auto loans and a credit card from a local credit union three times. Johnson defrauded the financial institution on its claims by using a minor’s Social Security number who fabricated employment and income information.

The prosecutor’s office said the applications were approved, which allowed Johnson to pay for two vehicles for a total of $41,000.00. He was also able to get a credit card with a spending limit of $20,000.00.

About a year after the purchases, the prosecutor’s office said the cars he purchased were repossessed for nonpayment and the credit card account was closed with a balance over $20,000.00.

Then, in December 2017, Johnson again applied for two car loans from two different credit unions. He used a second social security number that was not his. But these loan requests were refused.

According to the press release, on January 12, 2017, Johnson deposited a fake check for $12,791.91 into his bank account. When the check was cashed, Johnson withdrew $12,700.00 from his checking account, money that did not belong to him.

In pleading guilty, Johnson was ordered to sign judgment admissions in favor of the bank and the credit union, totaling $59,748.00. He also had to sign a no-permission affidavit on behalf of the minor whose social security number was used.

  • Three counts of first-degree impersonation (Class “D” felonies)
  • One count of criminal possession of a counterfeit instrument in the second degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of grand larceny in the third degree (class “D” felony)
  • Two counts of attempted first-degree identity theft (felony Class “E”)
  • One count of First Degree Fraud Plan (Class “E” felony)

Johnson could face a maximum of 4 years when sentenced on July 26, 2022.

He is currently released on his own recognizance, the DA’s office said.