Five years after faking a freak "pelican accident," an East Texas man has pleaded guilty to fraud for his role in a watery car crash that totaled his $1 million Bugatti Veyron. Andy Lee House faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
In 2009, House told the car website Jalopnik that "a low flying pelican" distracted him and caused the crash. But an admiring motorist debunked that theory with video evidence of the luxury car traveling smoothly down Interstate 45, nary a pelican in sight.
The story was one of the first CultureMap reported in November, 2009, soon after it launched in Houston.
"That'll be mine one day," the man behind the camera says just moments before the rare sports car disappears into the Gulf Bay near La Marque.
House told first responders that he was reaching for his cell phone when he swerved and accidently entered the water. The YouTube video of the so-called crash led authorities to say 39-year-old House intentionally drove his car into the bay in order to collect on a hefty insurance policy.
Though the vehicle was worth about $1 million, House had a $2.2 million policy, alleging it was a collector's item. He had the car just one month before totaling it in the bay. He filed a claim on his insurance policy the day after the crash.
The FBI, the Texas Rangers and the police department in Lukfin (where House lives), all investigated the crash. Authorities say House left the motor of the Bugatti running for 15 minutes after entering the water, which destroyed the vehicle.