An FBI agent assigned to move a rare Ferrari wrecked it during a short drive in Kentucky, and its owner is now suing the U.S. Justice Department, which has refused to pay $750,000 for the car.
The Justice Department recently responded to the lawsuit by saying it's not liable for certain goods when they're in the hands of law enforcement. The government also has refused to release most documents related to the crash.
The Ferrari F50 was stolen in 2003 from a dealer in Rosemont, Pa., and discovered five years later. The FBI kept it in Lexington, Ky., as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
FBI agent Fred Kingston was to move the Ferrari from a garage in May 2009. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson said Kingston invited him on a "short ride."
"Just a few seconds after we left the parking lot, we went around a curve and the rear of the car began sliding," Thompson said in an email released to Motors Insurance Co., the dealer's insurer.
"The agent tried to regain control but the car fishtailed and slid sideways up onto the curb. The vehicle came to rest against a row of bushes and a small tree," Thompson said.
He was not hurt, but Kingston needed a few stitches for a cut on his head.
Motors Insurance took ownership of the car after it paid the dealer for the theft. The company told the government that the 1995 Ferrari, one of only 50 in the U.S., suffered substantial damage in the Kentucky crash and is a "total loss."
"At heart, it is a race vehicle" and is not built like a typical car, truck or SUV, the insurer said in a claim for payment, partly explaining why it sought $750,000.
The Southfield, Mich.-based company filed a lawsuit in March after the Justice Department refused to pay. Motors Insurance has also filed a lawsuit to try to get records about the incident through the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The government has been secretive, saying most records are exempt. It only released Thompson's email.
"We don't really know what happened. We've asked for a lot of information," Motors Insurance attorney Richard Kraus said in an interview this week.
A judge has set a June 13 hearing in the case.