x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Adviser's 'Cannonball Run' misfires and ends up in jail

A financial adviser was arrested and fined for speeding during a company event.

A Dubai-based financial adviser was arrested and fined for speeding during a company-sponsored "Cannonball Run" through North America. Spencer Lodge, the Middle East regional director for PIC deVere, was clocked driving at 167kph in a rented 2009 Lamborghini Spyder convertible on a motorway in the north-eastern state of Vermont en route from New York to Montreal. While that speed would hardly raise eyebrows on some UAE routes, it was more than 47kph above the posted speed limit.

Mr Lodge was charged with gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle and excessive speed. He pleaded guilty in a brief court appearance and paid a fine of US$880 (Dh3,200) after spending a few hours in jail. Broadcast reports in the US showed a document entitled, "deVere and Partners Itinerary, Cannonball Run June 9-14." They said Mr Lodge told police that deVere hosted the event to reward top sales associates and the firm had rented 14 sports cars valued at nearly $2.5 million.

Cannonball Run is a 1981 film starring Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett and Dom Deluise as competitors in a cross-country car race. The hit film spawned two sequels. "Mr Lodge was arrested and convicted in Franklin County district court on June 14 of negligent operation of a motor vehicle," said Lt Robert Stebbins, a state deputy sheriff in Vermont. "I believe Mr Lodge to be a decent guy who made a mistake and he has paid his price in the state of Vermont. He's square with the house, to borrow a poker phrase."

The itinerary said the group was planning to stop at luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants during the journey, which was to conclude at a Formula One race in Montreal. DeVere says it is the world's largest independent international financial consultancy firm. Mr Lodge's company, PIC Middle East, is affiliated with deVere and has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. DeVere said: "This event was an organised tour and over the course of a few days employees drove from New York to Montreal to watch the Grand Prix. It was not, under any circumstances meant to be a race, nor was it promoted as such. ? DeVere do not condone the actions of Mr Lodge. In breach of the advice that he was given, Mr Lodge broke the law and has been penalised for his actions by the US authorities."

breagan@thenational.ae