Coincidence that one of the most famous cars ever used for illegal purposes in cinematic history became a part of a real Department of Justice prosecution?
Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed played bootleggers running a truck load of beer through Texas on a bet in “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Four decades later, the U.S. Attorney's Office has filed forfeiture complaints against 180 cars and dozens of properties that belonged to the owners of the Benicia-based company, DC Solar. The government says they were purchased with the proceeds of a ponzi scheme related to the lease and sales of solar-powered generators.
When federal agents went to seize assets and property, they found a 1978 Trans Am, once owned by Reynolds. Its paint job looks like the 1976 Trans Am with the 1977 grill that was in the movie, according to IMDB.
Jennifer Crane with the U.S. Marshals Service says 149 of the 180 vehicles are up for auction, and have received 9,000 bids totalling more than $5 million as of Wednesday.
"It's an agreement by all the parties involved to be able to sell the assets through the Department of Justice asset forfeiture program," Crane said. “We've had the online portal open for about a week, and that's how we've managed to go to $5.3 million.”
You can bid online or in person on Saturday. Apple Towing and Apple Auctioneering is handling the auction. Company President Michael Scully says the cars will go quickly.
‘We’re estimating two-to-three minutes per car. A lot of the cars are starting to creep up a pretty good way. So once the auction starts, there won’t be a lot of fighting,” Scully said.
The marshals service has displayed some of the cars at Golden 1 Center. Rick Pennisi was eyeing a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
"My son's partner, they have an aquarium shop in Main Street Woodland. His partner has one of these. So yeah, I'd like to get one."
At last check, the bid was already $97,000. Pennisi figured it would be $120,000 by Saturday.
“Easily,” he said.
Bids so far include nearly $1 million dollars for a Prevost motorhome, $120,000 for a Bentley and $87,000 for the replica of the Bandit.
Other vehicles include a 1930 limousine and three boats.
The Marshals Service maintains seized properties from investigations by other federal agencies. This is the largest auction of this kind in the Marshals history.
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