The South Burlington man, known colloquially as “Pizza Man” has asked to withdraw a guilty plea for reportedly trying to buy a firearm.
Michael A. Gonzalez, pleaded guilty on Jan. 8 to attempting to buy a gun despite being banned from gun ownership because of a pending felony charge of aggravated assault in a domestic violence incident. On a purchase form, he said he had no felonies in motion, records show.
Under a plea deal Gonzalez was told if he stayed out of trouble and remained in Vermont until his sentencing in May, his penalty would be equal to the 10 months he spent in prison while awaiting to resolve his gun case. He was released on conditions.
Gonzalez appeared to follow orders for just over a week while living at a Burlington shelter.
After hearing arguments last week, Chief Federal Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford is considering allowing Gonzalez to withdraw his plea.
Defense attorney Chandler Matson, who is new to the case, said Gonzalez did not have time to weight his options before admitting guilt, and now he might want to take the case to trial before a jury.
Gonzalez had waived a jury trial and was expected to have a trial by judge on Feb. 4.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Boscia said as the original trial date got closer, Gonzalez opted to accept a plea deal that would get him out of prison immediately, Boscia said.
Gonzalez was interested in getting out of prison because the Department for Children and Families had taken custody of his child and wanted to regain custody, Matson said.
Prosecutor Boscia said, “He needs a fair and valid reason (to withdraw the plea).”
Gonzalez never possessed the firearm in question while the aggravated assault was pending, according to his lawyer. He was charged with making a false statement about his criminal record when he attempted to purchase a firearm at the Powderhorn Gun Shop in Williston on Sept. 23, 2019.
Tesla charges outstanding
As previously reported, Gonzalez has a penchant for Tesla electric vehicles.
He was arrested in Seabrook, N.H., accused of trying to sell a stolen 2019 Tesla X, valued at about $115,000, at a local auto shop the night of Sunday Jan. 17.
For that Gonzalez faces three counts of violating his federal release conditions but has admitted to one — being outside the state of Vermont. He denied the other two counts: committing a new criminal charge and testing positive for opiates before a federal court hearing Jan. 28.
Another Tesla allegedly in his possession burned up on Lake Champlain on Sunday Feb. 24, 2019.
Shelburne Police and fire officials reported Gonzalez said he was out in Shelburne Bay for ice fishing when the 2019 Model X caught fire at about 8:10 p.m.
The electric-powered SUV was destroyed. Gonzalez thought he might have hit a rock shortly before the fire, police said.
Subsequent court records show a federal grand jury in Vermont in April 2019 was investigating Gonzalez in connection with at least four Tesla cases. Court records also showed that one of the sign-in accounts for a Google account as part of the grand jury investigation used “TeslaMikeGonzalez.”
The U.S. Secret Service is taking the lead on that case.
He also has been dubbed “Pizza Man” after a mistaken identity case in April 2018, in which Gonzalez mistook a uniformed South Burlington Police officer arriving in a marked police cruiser with a blue light bar for a late-night local pizza delivery man dropping off an order at Stonehedge North Condominiums.