Aston Martin forfeited, auctioned in Belgrade cancer-drug case

2013-04-16T10:00:00Z 2013-07-12T19:15:07Z Aston Martin forfeited, auctioned in Belgrade cancer-drug caseBy CLAIR JOHNSON/Billings Gazette missoulian.com
April 16, 2013 10:00 am  • 

An Aston Martin sports car forfeited by a Belgrade man as part of a probe into the illegal importing of cancer drugs without federal approval sold on Monday for $110,000.

Rod Ostermiller, chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service, said a Texas man submitted the high bid during an auction held April 10 in Billings and that his cashier’s check arrived Monday. Ostermiller said he could not disclose the buyer’s identity.

The Texas bid was one of a dozen offers for the high-end specialty vehicle.

The car – a 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Coupe 2D with 2,077 miles– was included in the U.S. Attorney’s Office seizure of land in Gallatin County and more than $1 million in currency from Paul D. Bottomley, a pharmaceutical salesman.

In a deal reached with the federal prosecutor, Bottomley is set to plead guilty to misprision of a felony, which is knowing about a felony but not reporting it, in U.S. District Court in Missoula on April 26. He faces a maximum of three years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine, although the government doesn’t intend to seek a fine because of the forfeiture.

Bottomley’s attorney, Jay Lansing, declined to comment.

Disposing of the unusual car in Montana, where motorists are more likely to drive pickups and sport-utility vehicles, prompted the Marshals Service to work with J&S Recovery Inc., a Billings company specializing in the repossession, collection and transportation of property, to manage the sale, said U.S. Marshal Darrell Bell.

“You don’t see many of these cars around Montana,” Bell said.

The marshal couldn’t help but admire the silver car.

“It’s a dandy. You’re going to look and go, ‘Holy smokes! It’s beautiful,” he said.

Who drives an Aston Martin? Bond, James Bond. The sophisticated British agent of the long-running spy films has long been associated with the United Kingdom-made vehicle.

When unveiled in 2011, the two-seat hatchback caused a buzz because Aston Martin wedged a more powerful 6.0 liter V-12 engine into a car designed for a smaller, V-8 motor. The company “had to do a fair amount of engineering to shoehorn the engine beneath the Vantage’s hood,” said edmonds.com.

According to caranddriver.com, the car accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, zero to 100 mph in 9.2 seconds and has a top speed of 190 mph. List price was $181,345.

Bottomley bought the car in June 2011 with a $157,000 wire transfer from a bank account in Montana to a Jaguar dealership in Los Angeles, court records said.

In a civil agreement with federal prosecutors, Bottomley forfeited the Aston Martin, 10 parcels of property totaling about 263 acres in Gallatin County and $1,088,378 in currency seized from bank accounts, court records said.

Bottomley got to keep his Belgrade residence, $7,000 and a 2011 Ford Expedition, which was purchased in 2010 from Bozeman Ford for $40,005.

The Marshals Service routinely handles forfeitures of seized property, but rarely does an ultra high-end car come along. Ostermiller said the agency hired J&S Recovery through a public contracting process to pick up, store and maintain the car and manage the sale.

J&S Recovery was required to advertise the Aston Martin only in a local publication, Ostermiller said. The company ran an ad for 14 days in The Billings Gazette’s sports auto classified section.

“What we found with high-dollar items is word of mouth is huge. I’m not an authority on this, but I think there is quite a community of people that track these sorts of things,” he said.

Land seized as part of the forfeiture is not yet ready for disposal, Ostermiller said.

Of the money from such asset sales, up to 80 percent goes to law enforcement agencies that help with investigations. The rest goes to the forfeiture program’s administrative costs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Francis said in the settlement agreement that there was probable cause to believe the forfeited property was acquired with proceeds from illegal activity related to importing oncology drugs from foreign countries without the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drugs were then sold to doctors in the U.S. at below-market prices.

Bottomley, a citizen of the U.K. living in the U.S. as a permanent resident alien, worked in pharmaceutical sales and started a business called Montana Healthcare Solutions Inc. in 2007, which he later sold.

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