Precedents

October 19, 1982: John DeLorean Arrested

Posted Oct 1, 2011 12:40 AM CDT
By George Hodak

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Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

At the age of 40, John DeLorean became the youngest person to ever head a division at General Motors. Seven years later, in 1972, he was named a vice president. With his stylish dress and jet-setting lifestyle, he was scarcely the standard-issue organization man; nevertheless, he seemed destined to take the helm at GM. But DeLorean abruptly left GM in 1973 and two years later set up his own automotive company.

Lured by $120 million in loans and grants from the British government, the firm built a factory outside Belfast to produce what was to be the “ethical sports car.” Rolled out in early 1981, the DMC-12 proved to be overpriced, underpowered and plagued by mechanical defects. The plant was placed in receivership a year later, forcing DeLorean on a frantic quest for new investors to salvage his ill-fated venture.

Along the way he was drawn into an elaborate government sting operation, which led to his arrest at an LA hotel moments after he had proposed a toast, caught on surveillance video, to celebrate a $24 million cocaine deal. But DeLorean’s defense team persuaded the jury that he had been entrapped by overzealous investigators, and he was acquitted in August 1984. His legal woes, however, were far from over.

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