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Buttafuoco Sentenced to 1 Year in Jail

March 23, 2004|Christiana Sciaudone | Times Staff Writer

Joey Buttafuoco, notorious for his love affair with a teenager who shot his wife in the face, was sentenced to a year in jail Monday for insurance fraud and banned from the auto body business in California for life.

Prosecutors dropped other charges, including grand theft, in return for Buttafuoco's guilty plea. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Horwitz also ordered him to pay $4,624 in restitution to 21st Century Insurance Co.

Court records show that during a search of Buttafuoco's Chatsworth home after his arrest Dec. 17, police seized $19,406 in cash, a handgun, a shotgun, marijuana, rock and powder cocaine, and psilocybin. Authorities could not determine who owned the drugs.

Buttafuoco recently sold his interest in California Collision in Chatsworth, which was targeted in a police sting. Buttafuoco, 48, agreed to a plea deal in order to escape a drawn-out trial, said his attorney, Jonathan Kissel.

"He found himself between a rock and a hard place," Kissel said. "He had to cut his losses and take what was offered to him, and the offer was very fair."

In September, an undercover investigator went to California Collision and told Buttafuoco that he had told his insurance company that his car had been vandalized. Although there was little damage, the investigator said he wanted a new paint job, court records show.

Buttafuoco told the investigator that was illegal, but went on to give him "a tutorial," court records show. Buttafuoco told the investigator to deface the car to justify the paint job, according to court records. The investigator returned three days later with scratches on his car.

Buttafuoco "complimented" the investigator when the latter scratched the hood of the car with a key, court records show. Then Buttafuoco told the investigator to tell the insurance company that the entire vehicle had been scratched and dented, court documents said.

In 1991, while living on Long Island, where he operated an auto body shop, Buttafuoco had an affair with Amy Fisher, then 16. The next year, Fisher shot Buttafuoco's wife, Mary Jo, in the face, a crime for which she served seven years in prison. Buttafuoco served six months in prison for statutory rape. Mary Jo Buttafuoco survived and divorced him last year.

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