California homeowner reported buried Mercedes stolen in 1992, received $87K insurance payout, official says


The former owner of a California manse where a Mercedes-Benz was discovered buried in the yard had reported the vehicle stolen – and received a hefty insurance payout – 30 years ago, according to a local paper. 

Johnny Bocktune Lew, the man who built the $15 million estate on property along Stockbridge Avenue in Atherton, reported his own Mercedes-Benz stolen 1992, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe confirmed to Fox News Digital on Tuesday. 

Wagstaffe also said Lew received between $87,000 and $88,000 in insurance money for the reportedly stolen vehicle. 

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The Atherton Police Department received a call on Thursday morning for a report of buried vehicle that was uncovered while landscaping work was being done in the yard. Atherton is located roughly 30 miles south of San Francisco.

Over the course of the next several days, excavators and Investigators worked to remove the vehicle from the scene and find answers to how and why the vehicle had been placed there.

On Saturday, a cadaver dog “made notification of possible human remains,” though investigators have not recovered any in the car or on the property so far. 

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Police have said the vehicle was buried four-to-five feet into the ground, with the front facing into the dirt, and they believe it was placed there in the 1990s. Investigators recovered “unused bags of concrete throughout the vehicle,” police said. 

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According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Lew died in 2015 and had a checkered past that included attempted murder convictions and a past insurance fraud arrest. 

Lew was convicted in 1977 of attempted murder and spent three years behind bars, the Chronicle reported. He was reportedly busted for insurance fraud in the late ’90s after he unknowingly enlisted undercover cops to move a $1.2 million “into international waters and put it on the bottom.”

Lew was convicted of murder in 1996, but the verdict was overturned just years later. 

Police have said they believe the vehicle was buried on the property before the current homeowners moved in. They are still investigating the circumstances and motive. 

Fox News Digital’s Julia Musto contributed to this report.

The former owner of a California property where a Mercedes-Benz was discovered buried in the yard received a big payout after reporting the vehicle stolen in 1992.

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