Business Owner Closer to Getting Paid Back for Vehicle DEA Destroyed in Failed Drug Sting: Instead of a controlled purchase followed by several arrests, the DEA ran into an ambush. In the middle of it all, a plainclothes cop from one Texas agency was shot by a plainclothes cop employed by another.
Almost seven years ago, DEA agents borrowed a truck (and an employee) from Craig Thomas Expeditors. Craig Patty, proprietor and employer of Lawrence Chapa, had no idea this was happening. The DEA never approached Patty and, for all he knew, Chapa was taking the truck down to Houston for some service. This was all a ruse. The DEA loaded Patty’s truck with marijuana (and his driver) and went down to Houston to engage in a drug sting.
Incredible, the DEA had the audacity to deny the business owner a single bit of compensation:
After this debacle, Patty was finally informed that his truck and employee had been part of a tragic DEA misfire. He was also informed that the federal government would not be shelling out a single cent to repair the $100,000 worth of damage to the truck. (It said even less about the cost of the life it had taken from Patty’s driver.) The DEA said it did not have to pay anything for the damage because it occurred during a law enforcement operation. Patty’s insurance company said the same thing.
The logic of the DEA is deafeningly obtuse and should be extremely alarming:
Patty sued the DEA. This went nowhere. The government argued — successfully — that clandestine operations like drug stings don’t require notification of citizens whose private property is put to use. It also argued it was immune from liability because undercover operations are more important than protecting assets owned by law-abiding citizens. The court agreed and tossed Patty’s case.
Fortunately, justice may actually be served:
This appeared to be the end of it. But I’m happy to report that’s not the case. Nearly seven years has elapsed since the DEA destroyed Patty’s truck, but a federal judge for the Federal Claims court has said Patty can move ahead with his lawsuit seeking compensation for his “borrowed” truck.