Sports car manufacturer John Z. De Lorean once offered to invest $2 million in a plan to bring Asian heroin and Colombian cocaine into the United States, and told federal undercover agents that it was a "tragedy" that the deal fell through, according to federal documents released today.
U.S. prosecutors, who have charged the millionaire in an alleged drug trafficking scheme, reacted strongly in the documents to suggestions by De Lorean that he had been pressured into the drug deal by a government informer.
Having seen and heard more than 100 motion pictures and tape recordings of his activities, prosecutors said, "It is difficult to imagine a more willing participant in a narcotics transaction than John Z. De Lorean."
The documents, filed Jan. 11 in U.S. District Court, were the government's response to a De Lorean motion accusing prosecutors of withholding evidence that would show his unwillingness to participate in the alleged scheme.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert M. Takasugi agreed to unseal the prosecution documents this morning. In response to motions by the Associated Press and other news organizations, affirmed last week by a federal appeals court and today by U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist, Takasugi ordered the release of a few more documents this afternoon. Most of the new documents are minor housekeeping motions that do not reveal the substance of the government's case.
Takasugi said he would rule within 10 days whether to unseal other documents that give information about government informants involved in the case and about De Lorean's personal income and expenses.
In the alleged transaction disclosed today, prosecutors said the $2 million that De Lorean offered for cocaine and heroine "became unavailable" when "the money had to be placed on deposit in a trust account to satisfy the British receivers of De Lorean's company."
The efforts of the former General Motors executive to establish his own sports car company in Northern Ireland collapsed when the company went deep into debt and prosecutors have indicated that De Lorean was seeking to save the enterprise with profits from drug trafficking.
According to the documents released today, De Lorean told an FBI undercover agent that "I feel as bad about this as you do" when the initial deal collapsed. He said it was a "tragedy" and "unless you've got some ideas, all I can do is I'll try to develop an alternative."
According to the documents, "De Lorean subsequently negotiated an alternative format for securing his investment in the narcotics transaction through the delivery of De Lorean motor company stock to a DEA Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent whom De Lorean believed to be an organized crime figure."
Both De Lorean and federal prosecutors have noted that De Lorean had no right to turn the stock over to anyone because it was encumbered by a major bank loan.
In the documents, prosecutors ridiculed De Lorean's charge of government "entrapment" and "outrageous conduct" in allegedly interfering with the legitimate investors interested in his automobile company.
"It should be obvious that a defendant who is captured in a room with 25 kilograms of high-quality Colombian cocaine following a videotaped session in which he fondles the cocaine and toasts his future in the narcotics business has few defenses available to him," the prosecution motion said.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine last winter, De Lorean said that James Hoffman, a government informer and convicted drug trafficker, threatened the lives of De Lorean's two children when De Lorean attempted to back out of the drug deal.
Hoffman, according to federal sources, was first approached by De Lorean, who lived near him in San Diego, and served as a middleman between De Lorean and a group of federal agents investigating illegal cocaine trade.
The January documents' motion said the prosecution had made available to De Lorean's attorneys all tape-recorded conversations except a surreptitious recording made at the La Scala restaurant in Los Angeles.
De Lorean is free on $5 million bond while two co-defendants, Aircraft Services Co. owner William Morgan Hetrick and Hetrick's assistant, Stephen Lee Arrington, remain in prison awaiting trial Aug. 9.