Florida Man Suing Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post Over "Jealous Rage" DUI Story
Joseph Loprete has a Google problem. The first search result for his name is a Sun-Sentinel article about his DUI arrest in 2010 for driving his car into his Boca Raton house. The article, citing a police report, calls the accident the result of mixing alcohol and "jealous rage."
The 50-year-old businessman now says the wreck was a simple accident, though, and is suing the Palm Beach Post and the Sun-Sentinel for defamation.
"All I want them to do is take the article down, and they won't do it," he tells Riptide.
The papers -- neither of which returned calls from Riptide to comment on the suit -- have told Loprete's attorney Basil Von Lashley that the pieces are accurate and won't be removed.
The trouble all started on July 4, 2010, when Loprete says he and his wife got into a fight at a party. They continued to argue when they got home.
Here's what Loprete says happened next: he got in his car to drive somewhere to clear his head, but after pulling out of the driveway, changed his mind because he'd had a few drinks and already had a prior DUI conviction from 2007. So he put the car back into drive, only to have the car go flying into the house.
The Sun-Sentinel's story on the accident quotes police, who say in a report that they found Loprete sitting on the couch, reeking of alcohol, as his wife cried in the bathroom. Loprete told cops he had crashed the car into the house out of jealousy, the paper reported, and then told officers, "Put me in cuffs, take me to jail, let's go."
Loprete was charged with DUI, aggravated assault and criminal mischief.
Loprete now says he copped to the DUI charge to get the other charges dropped, but maintains that he didn't crash the car on purpose. Rather, he says the accident was caused by a malfunctioning throttle cable that made his car accelerate uncontrollably. Loprete also says that the car experienced the same problem nine months ago, when his wife got into an accident in a Walmart parking lot.
Loprete is now suing to have them removed, and looking for compensatory damages in the neighborhood of $650,000, as a result of lost business.
The negative publicity from the arrest, he says, has hurt his business as the owner of a recruiting search firm, as clients have looked him up only to find the crash.