NORTH TONAWANDA, NY - A Niagara County man, already facing charges after police say he was caught on tape damaging a pizza sign with his Jeep, is in some more trouble.
Investigators say that the incident was part of an ongoing feud between two pizzerias in North Tonawanda: Pizza Junction, which was recently sold to a new owner, and Vito's Avenue Pizzeria, which is advertising that it is now selling "Junction-style" pizza.
When 21-year-old Ryan Fleckenstein showed up in N.T. Court on Thursday on charges related to the Vito's incident, he was arrested again. This time, Fleckenstein is charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree, a felony, and attempted grand larceny.
The charges follow an investigation by the New York State Insurance Fraud Bureau where Fleckenstein allegedly claimed he hit the sign after swerving to avoid a garbage can that had blown into the street.
Surveillance camera from a neighboring business caught the incident on tape.
The North Tonawanda resident is being held at the Niagara County Jail in Lockport on $2,000 bail.
Police say Fleckenstein demanded that Vito's change the sign and that when they refused, police say Fleckenstein got into his Jeep parked on the sidewalk and rammed into the sign before driving off.
"He was charged with reckless endangerment for committing this act while people were in the proximity that could have been hurt," says North Tonawanda Police Chief Randy Szukala.
Two teens were standing near the sign when the incident happened but Fleckenstein apparently told them to move away from the sign just before the crash.
Fleckenstein is charged with criminal mischief for damage to the $700 sign and reckless endangerment for the proximity of the people.
The Judge also issued an order of protection, telling Fleckenstein to stay away from Wozniak, who owns Vito's Avenue Pizzeria.