ST. PETERSBURG — It’s a problem almost no one can relate to: The valet hands the keys to your $300,000 Ferrari to the wrong person.
It happened in July at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, according to police, who ended up arresting the man and woman who drove off in it.
Now, the owner of that yellow 2014 Ferrari 458 Italia Spider has filed a lawsuit against the Vinoy and its parking operator, 717 Parking Enterprises.
The lawsuit and St. Petersburg police report tell the tale of how a brightly colored Italian sports car worth six-figures was stolen with apparently minimal effort.
The alleged crime was less Ocean’s 11 , more Curb Your Enthusiasm .
But the man who officers arrested said he didn’t steal the Ferrari.
The valet, after all, gave him the keys.
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The Ferrari’s owner is James "Skip" Fowler, 73, a senior partner at the Orlando law firm Fowler, O’Quinn, Feeney & Sneed. It specializes in government work and serves the cities of Altamonte Springs and Cocoa Beach.
He recently filed a suit in Hillsborough Circuit Court against the Vinoy’s parent company, Marriott International, and 717 Parking for negligence and gross negligence.
The lawsuit said he "spent significant sums" on car inspections, repairs and legal fees after his Ferrari was stolen and that the value has been "diminished."
He was in town for a lawyers convention. He checked in at 11 a.m. on July 27. His Ferrari was parked in front of the Vinoy.
The valet told police it got really busy at midnight. Then a man, accompanied by a woman, asked for the keys to the Ferrari.
The man "seemed to be impatient" and "demanding," the police report said. He told the valet the ticket was inside the car and that he would bring it back.
He didn’t. Instead, the two sat in the Ferrari for "quite a while."
The valet, police said, stopped paying attention after he "figured he was not getting a tip."
Eventually, the Ferrari drove off.
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The driver was later identified as Levi Miles, then 28, and the passenger as Chloe Rimmer, 24.
They didn’t get far. An officer pulled them over at about 12:30 a.m.
The car was leaving the Jordan Park area and about to get onto the northbound Interstate 275 ramp at 28th Street S. The taillights weren’t working.
The driver also had "difficulty" driving the car, the officer noted.
Miles told the officer he was a Marine driving his father’s car. He said they wanted to drive by the water off Gulfport and were heading back to the hotel.
What about the taillights?
"I thought I just got those fixed," Miles said.
Police said they found cocaine on top of the center console, about 2 grams. The man and woman were then placed in the back of separate police cruisers.
Miles denied knowing about the drugs. His story kept changing, the report said. This was the last story he told: He had just met Rimmer. They went back to the Vinoy to get her car. The Ferrari was sitting right there.
"Yeah, that’s my car," Miles told her.
"(Miles) admitted that he had an attitude with the valet attendant to distract him from asking for the valet ticket," the officer wrote. Miles said he knew the car wasn’t his, but planned to return it after a few hours.
He also insisted that he did not steal it.
"Miles stated the vehicle and keys were given to him by (the) valet," the report said, "so technically he did not steal the vehicle."
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The officer who pulled over the car radioed for another officer to go check with the Vinoy to see if there was a Ferrari missing.
Both Miles and Rimmer were arrested that night.
He currently faces charges of grand theft of more than $100,000, possession of cocaine and habitually driving with a suspended or revoked license.
She faces a charge of possession of marijuana. Police said they found a gram of it in her purse.
Fowler did not return a call for comment made to his law firm.
At the time, police suspected there was more than just a guy trying to impress a girl. A detective asked Miles if he was part of a ring stealing expensive cars.
The detective asked Miles if he knew about a stolen red Chevy Corvette Z06, an Impala, a Cadillac and three Audi A8s. He emphatically denied it.
"I was trying to impress the girl I just met at the Vinoy," Miles said.
Rimmer supported that story. She said they just met that night. He offered to drive her home, but first had to see a friend in Jordan Park. They went to the Vinoy to get her car when Miles asked the valet for the keys to the Ferrari.
She admitted it was odd that Miles didn’t seem to know how to "drive" the car, but he did manage to "move it." But she didn’t think much of it.
In the report, the officer summed up her attitude that night:
"I’m in a Ferrari, this is nice."
Contact Jamal Thalji at [email protected]