Police have arrested a former NFL player on charges of vandalizing his own restaurants in an attempt to collect on an insurance policy.
Edawn Coughman is also accused of making the wrecking session look like a hate crime as racial slurs, swastika imagery and “MAGA” graffiti was found spray-painted throughout the Create & Bake Pizza restaurants in Gwinnett County, Georgia on Friday.
Witnesses alerted police to the supposed break-in but when police arrived they reportedly found Coughman sitting in a vehicle with a crowbar and other assorted hardware, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported Friday. (RELATED: Here’s A List Of Hoax ‘Hate Crimes’ In The Trump Era)
Police allege that the athlete-turned entrepreneur was trying to collect on his insurance policy by creating his own incident.
“It’s possible he was trying to stage this as a hate crime,” said a police officer who arrived on-scene to investigate. “We don’t know if he was trying to get attention for this. What we do know is, if that witness had not called us and if those officers had not responded as quickly as they did, we would probably be sitting here talking about a completely different crime in which Mr. Coughman would be trying to say he’s a victim.” (RELATED: NYC Synagogue Vandalism Suspect Is Former City Hall Anti-Hate Crime Intern)
Another officer said the crime is highly unusual.
“The case does not fit the mold of our typical criminal investigations,” an official said. “So we have to look outside of the box to see how many victims we truly have.”
There are several other recent examples of allegedly faked hate crimes. In February, a transgender activist was accused of burning down his own home and calling it a hate crime. More infamously that same month, actor Jussie Smollett accused two people of attacking him, dousing him with an unknown chemical substance, and putting a noose around his neck.
Chicago police accused Smollett of staging the entire event as a publicity stunt. Their extensive investigation came to nothing as the local prosecutor decided to drop the charges after the actor promised to relinquish his bail bond and do community service.