For FBI agent Fred Kingston, it was a sweet assignment. The FBI had seized a stolen 1995 Ferrari F50 — one of only 50 such cars in the United States. Kingston was instructed to move the car from the FBI garage and so Kingston reportedly called Assistant US Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson to come along for the ride. The agent ended up crashing the car — causing $750,000 but now the Justice Department insists that it is not liable for the damage.
The DOJ insists that it is not responsible for damage to stolen property. That is a pretty silly rule if the DOJ is negligent in the handling of property of citizens.
The owner is now suing the government for $750,000 in damages to the vehicle.
Thompson insists that “Just a few seconds after we left the parking lot, we went around a curve and the rear of the car began sliding” and ended up hitting a tree. The question, however, is why an agent would take along a friend to transport a $750,000 vehicle rather than arrange for a tow. If this were a $1 million painting, would they just mail it?
The DOJ further refuses to release any documents on the crash — using government privileges to conceal evidence of its own alleged negligence. It is a pretty sweet deal for agents. You can first invite friends for a spin in a rare car, then crash the car and then use government immunities and privileges to bar others from reviewing the evidence.
I fail to see the public policy value of a rule barring liability in the destruction of private property in such cases of alleged negligence. I understand the need to bar liability akin to a bailment for hire. However, if a party can show negligence or gross negligence, I do not see why the government should not compensate the party. Under the rule advanced by the DOJ, there is little deterrent for such conduct when the government can not only refuse to pay but refuse to disclose evidence of its own alleged misconduct.
14 thoughts on “Joy Ride for Justice? FBI Agent Wrecks Stolen Ferrari After Taking Friend Out For A Spin . . . DOJ Refuses To Pay For Damage”
why the hell are they having employees DRIVE the car anywhere? The car should have been professionally transported, on a flatbed tow truck, by a licensed and bonded carrier. When the FBI got behind the wheel, they took FULL responsibility. Now they need to PAY UP.
Did anyone ever think that maybe this really was an accident outside the control of the agent? Well of course not because NO ONE ever has gotten into a car accident at no fault of their own. Just because it happened to be in a rare car with more get-up than your typical sedan and he just happened to invite a colleague to join him. Really ask yourself… if you had a opportunity (even through work) to drive a car you would NEVER be able to afford on a gov’t paycheck would you really not ask someone you know who would enjoy that experience as well to join you? C’mon people… be REALISTIC and cut these guys a break!! They keep the bad guys off the streets and you and your communities safe. Instead everyone is more worried about an insurance company who will just write this off as a loss of their taxes… poor poor big business.
There is another way of looking at this incident. The FBI agent may have been acting proactively to prevent a future crime. The car was originally stolen due to its high value and exotic nature. If it had been returned to the insurance company it probably would have been resold and would then have been the possible target of another car thief. By wrecking the vehicle, the agent removed its intrinsic value and prevented the possibility of a future crime that would have been added to the FBI statistics. Therefore the FBI agent was serving to keep future crime stats down and improve the public image of the FBI.
Or maybe Agent Kingston was just being a dick.
if the state of kentucky has a mandatory insurance law wouldn’t the agent be guilty of operating a motor vehicle without valid insurance?
Nothing is more arrogant than the weakness which feels itself supported by power.
There is an explanation for this, exceptionalism in a nutshell, or even exceptionalism in a Ferrari.
O.S. pointed out:
“Putting a regular driver behind the wheel of a car like this would be the equivalent of putting an ordinary private pilot at the controls of a P-51 Mustang and telling him to fly it to another airport.”
And his license to carry ups the horsepower even more. Maybe the headline should read: Agent Loses High-Speed Chase with Ego
Any chance the Bureau runs a “Bloopers” show?
If the FBI rescued someone from a kidnapper and accidentally killed them en route home, they’d probably use the same excuse since they were not the kidnappers.
Ahh, to be a member of the protected class while transporting one of us peasants must be a real treat.
Boys and fast cars … somewhere there is a mother shaking her head in frustration and yelling, “What were you thinking, you and your buddy!? You could have both been killed … or hurt someone else!”
An instance of bad judgement in a boy is a learning opportunity … in a full grown man, accountability is the consequence of actions taken. The FBI needs to man-up.
Darn. It would have made a better story if it had been Guy Fieri’s Ferrari.
The Ferrari F50 was initially stolen in 2003 from a dealer in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. After it was reported stolen the ownership was transferred to Motors Insurance.
Now who really cares….except that they increase premiums for everyone else to absorb the loss……
Now, I wonder if Kentucky has a Garage Keepers Lib=ability Act…And they do…..Sex 207 “Liability of Garage Keeper”
Liability of garage keeper — damage to machine while driven by bailee. … 157 Ky. 836,
Most are still on the books…never changed….
Mark T–you are correct. The car had been stolen from the dealer, but later recovered by the DOJ. The FBI argument about responsibility is specious, since it was in their care and custody pending return to the owner, which by this time is the insurance company. Their lawyers have filed an FOIA request for the accident records.
Putting a regular driver behind the wheel of a car like this would be the equivalent of putting an ordinary private pilot at the controls of a P-51 Mustang and telling him to fly it to another airport. The car should have been put on a rollback and transported that way, but somebody was not thinking.
Can you clear something up for me? I’m guessing that the car was originally stolen and was then recovered by the DOJ which they then preceded to wreck and damage it, which is why they are saying that they won’t cover the repairs because they didn’t steal it. Is that a correct summary?
Someone should have told that agent that cars rear ends can slide when you peel out and speed around corners at high rates of speed.
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