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Fraud count added to flight charge

A Baitz Street man who allegedly damaged his car while trying to run from police in August now also faces insurance fraud charges after he is accused of telling his insurance company the damage occurred from vandalism, the state Insurance Department reported Thursday.

James R. Warmuz, 45, was charged with insurance fraud and grand larceny for allegedly filing an insurance claim with Allstate on Aug. 7, claiming his car was vandalized in front of his house. The insurance company paid him $1,797 for damage to his car.

The damage, officials reported, actually occurred in an Aug. 5 incident when Warmuz fled West Seneca police only to be arrested hours later after he went to the town's police station to report his car was stolen.

Warmuz, who is awaiting sentencing in January on a charge of fleeing an officer, initially was pursued by police that day after they reportedly observed him driving his 2003 Chevrolet Corvette at a high rate of speed.

He turned onto a dead-end street on the East Side of Buffalo, attempting to evade two West Seneca patrol cars, according to reports. Warmuz then allegedly refused to get out of his car, backed out around the stopped police cars and fled, damaging his Corvette.

Warmuz was arrested a few hours later after he inexplicably visited the West Seneca police station to report his car was stolen and officers recognized him as the suspect who had gotten away from them earlier in the day.

West Seneca and Buffalo police assisted Ross McQuade of the state Insurance Department's Frauds Bureau in pulling the investigation together that led to Warmuz's subsequent arrest.

If convicted on the new insurance-related charges, Warmuz faces up to three years in prison.

He was released pending a Nov. 17 hearing in Buffalo City Court.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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