Ex-homeowner had history of arrests for murder, fraud

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Ex-homeowner had history of arrests for murder, fraud


A former and now-deceased owner of the $15 million Atherton estate where police have been unearthing a car this week — after landscapers spotted the buried vehicle — had a
long history of alleged crime, with past arrests for murder and insurance fraud, records show.

In 1999, the former owner of the property at 351 Stockbridge Ave, Johnny Bocktune Lew, was accused of trying to hire people to sink a yacht worth $1.2 million in order to cash in on the insurance. The men he hired were undercover police in a sting operation, authorities said.

Lew, who was then in his 60s, told the undercover cops to take the 56-foot craft called the Corwel “out west of the Golden Gate Bridge into international waters and put it on the bottom,” Scott Edelen, a spokesperson for state Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, said at the time. “He was looking to profit from the loss.”

Investigators hid the yacht and told Lew they had sunk it. He allegedly paid them $30,000 in cash and $20,000 worth of gold watches, while telling American Yachts Limited — which insured the boat — that it had been stolen.

San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said that Lew had never been prosecuted for a crime in the county, and that the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office handled the insurance fraud case. The office did not return a request for comment.

According to public records and interviews, Lew lived with his family at the property in the 1990s, which is when Atherton police believe the car was buried.

Lew was raised in Hong Kong, where as a young man he served for a few years as a police officer before moving to the U.S. in 1959. Two years later, Lew married a cousin in South Carolina, and the pair lived first in San Francisco and then Los Angeles County.

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