Smollett 2.0? Vegan food truck owner charged with arson, insurance fraud over ‘hate crime’ claim

A prominent food-truck owner in San Diego who claimed to be a victim of “a shocking series of hate crimes” is now facing charges of arson and insurance fraud in connection to what might have been yet another hoax.

About a year ago, in a circumstance that received a lot of local media coverage, Avonte Hartsfield set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds after his popular “Rollin’ Roots” food truck was  “burglarized and vandalized” repeatedly along with a noose that he said was left in his office, which was also broken into.

He added that his truck shortly thereafter burned to a crisp in an electrical fire around the same time that he signed a lease for a new restaurant location.

According to KUSI News in San Diego, at the time Hartsfield “also said the attack on his food truck was a hate crime, as he is black and gay.” The food truck reportedly served vegan cuisine (go figure).

In a March 2022 GoFundMe update, Harris, 26, admitted that “the fire that was started was actually from electrical mishap. Whether that was caused by the vandalism to our electrical system or not, I definitely want to be transparent…” He offered refunds to anyone who was under the impression that arson was involved.

The GoFundMe page still lists about $91,000 in donations of the approximately $100,000 the entrepreneur originally raked in from roughly 2,000 concerned members of the community.

He now reported faces multiple felonies in a scenario that perhaps evokes memories of the Jussie Smollett or the Bubba Wallace scenarios, at least to some extent.

Either way, it seems that the food truck fans were the ones allegedly getting burned

“Hartsfield is being charged with arson and grand theft of personal property for allegedly stealing from GoFundMe donors. He also is charged with three other felonies that include defrauding and presenting a false claim to the company that insured his truck,” NBC7 San Diego reported last week about the allegations filed by state prosecutors.

“On Wednesday he said the insurance company conducted lengthy investigations and paid him more than $34,000. He may wind up having to give back that money, and if convicted of all charges, he faces up to seven years and four months in prison.”

The businessman, who has entered a not-guilty plea to all charges, is due in court in January for a series of hearings.

Hartfield has said that “police failed to examine the case entirely and focused solely on him without looking for other suspects,” The Grio reported.

Pundits such as Jason Whitlock have quipped that in America currently, the demand for hate crimes exceeds the supply.

“Hartsfield recently moved his business to Los Angeles but had recently announced on his social media that he would be back in San Diego to serve meals for Thanksgiving.  On an Instagram live stream…Hartsfield told followers the investigation would not impact plans for his business,” CBS 8 San Diego asserted.

Watch a report from CBS 8:

All suspects are presumed innocent until or unless they are convicted in a court of law of any alleged crimes.


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