NASCAR Family's pull gets a local judge to dismiss criminal case of drug possession and DUI on a technicality
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Last October, 44-year-old J.C. France, son of Grand-Am founder Jim France and grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, was stopped by Daytona Beach police after he was observed in a 2007 Lamborghini racing on a public road against his half-brother Russell Van Richmond. According to police reports J.C. France was found with a bag of cocaine and was charged with drug possession and driving under the influence.
France was nabbed in Holly Hill just past midnight that October 7th, 2009. He had failed to stop for an officer, with lights and siren blasting from his patrol car. When finally stopped in Holly Hill, France was reported with a "flushed face, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech". With great difficulty France got out of his vehicle and failed the field sobriety test. When the officer searched his pockets, he found a plastic bag containing cocaine.
The other France racing on the public streets was also stopped and arrested soon after while driving a 2003 Porsche. When the officer asked Richmond to step out of the Porsche to conduct a DUI investigation, he objected and told the officer "Oh no, you are not. Do you know who I am?". When the officer kept trying to get Richmond's cooperation he shot back loudly "I am a France" and "We own this city", obviously making reference to the well known control on public officials that the NASCAR Frances have enjoyed for years. Richmond is the son of one of Jim France's ex wives and housemate of J.C. France in a million-dollar mansion.
Richmond added to police Captain Steve Szabo, who was standing nearby, "Do you know who I am? - You are done". The police report said Richmond told Szabo. "I am gonna have your job". This is the biggest mistake ever. You are so done in Daytona."
The officer searched Richmond's pants and also found a plastic bag containing cocaine. Attached to Richmond's keys was a capsule containing a tablet marked "Watson 932", the imprint code for hydrodocone, also a controlled substance. According to reports, Richmond's last words to police were "Oh, shit" when they found the tablet of hydrocodone.
Our favorite quote, though, was from an unidentified woman in Richmond's Porsche who told police he was "going so fast, I put my seatbelt on." We're pretty sure you should wear a seatbelt anytime you go out for a drive with a coked out, drunk person.
Richmond, 41, was charged with possession of cocaine, DUI, possession of hydrocodone and threat by corruption of a public official.
Both men were out of jail the next day after paying bail.
He was driving so fast I put my seat belt onWoman riding the front seat with Russell Richmond
I am a France. Do you know what that means?
We Own This City!Russel Richmond, son of one of Jim France's former wives and housemate of J.C. France, also arrested
Fast Forward to Today. Another Travesty of Justice perpetrated in Daytona Beach...
The family's influence was put to work with a legal team and their vast local influence. The charges evaporated like smoke this week when local Circuit Judge Patrick Kennedy dismissed all charges.
The Frances' attorney alleged that the stop was unlawful because, when the officer finally was able to stop France, he was in Holly Hill and not Daytona Beach. A little stretch of Mason Avenue from Beach Street to Ridgewood is in Holly Hill, while the surrounding area is Daytona Beach...
The judge agreed and suppressed the extensive damming evidence. And without the evidence, the charges went away... The judge's order was dated March 29, and the charges were dismissed the next day.
Some people lead a charmed life, that's all I can sayPolice Chief Mike Chitwood
This is not the first time a France gets off easily after breaking state laws. In 2006 NASCAR CEO Brian France admitted to officers he had been drinking the night an eye witness followed him to his condominium after she observed him driving erratically and at "very reckless speed" on U.S. 1.
But because police never interviewed France until he was inside his residence, they could not arrest him for DUI, an internal affairs investigation revealed.
France was alleged to also have crashed into a parked car and a tree before driving off into his marina point Condo's underground parking.
The glossed-over internal investigation was instigated as a request by the state attorney to determine whether officers gave France special treatment the night they went to his Marina Pointe residence. Driving intoxicated in Florida is an automatic visit in jail for most of us, but not for political patrons in Daytona Beach.
It also seems that the NASCAR standards do not apply to NASCAR's royal family members. On May 5th, 2009 NASCAR suspended Jeremy Mayfield for taking banned substances. Mayfield filed a lawsuit alleging he had a false positive as a result of taking legal prescription drugs (See Mayfield lawsuit below) and the court agreed lifting the suspension on 7/1/2009. Upon NASCAR's motion, a federal appeals court reversed Mayfield's injunction on July 24, 2009. In justifying the suspension, NASCAR said the positive tests indicated methamphetamine use. Mayfield claimed they have been false positives, reacting to his use of a prescription medication for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). After the suspension, The driving team that Mayfield owned has collapsed, sponsorship money has dried up and his career is in shambles. His suspension continues to this day.
France, who was temporarily suspended after his own drug bust, got reinstated immediately after the judge's ruling. It matters not that he was under the influence, breaking a number of laws that placed innocent citizens in deadly peril. The technicality of suppressed evidence somehow, to his family's NASCAR, means that those things he did were just a dream... never happened.
At one point in history illegal street racing was viewed as a nuisance similar to children driving loud dirt bikes after sneaking into private property. The damage was limited to a few knee scrapes and it was quickly remedied by a stern warning from the parents...however, these children have grown into adulthood, the open field has become the streets of the city and the parents are absent. It is estimated that over 1,000 deaths a year are caused by irresponsible street racing.
Combine this reckless conduct against the innocent public at large with drugs and alcohol and we have today's Daytona Beach: dangerous streets and lack of laws against those that break them for as long as they wield influence.
The real travesty is not really the France's family using their influence to protect their own. That's what families do.
The travesty is the massive corruption in Daytona Beach that allows this to happen.