Multi-millionaire: Local police are discriminating against Ferrari owners

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

A part-time Aspen resident says local police are involved in profiling.
 
And Marc Ostrofsky is certainly a minority, in that he’s a multi-millionaire who drives a red Ferrari.
 
Police are discriminating against that type of car owner and pulling them over more compared to the average motorist, the internet entrepreneur said Wednesday after appearing in Aspen municipal court for a speeding ticket.
 
“I’ve asked other Ferrari owners in this town,” Ostrofsky said when asked about his contention.
 
Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn pulled over Ostrofsky, 51, around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Main and 4th streets, according to the citation.
 
He was cited for going 34 in Main Street’s 25-mph zone in his 2010 red Ferrari, though Ostrofsky said Linn told him that he had actually been going 49.
 
“Then why write a ticket for 34?” Ostrofsky said.
 
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said his officers routinely write the citation for less than what the actual speed was, so as to make it less onerous on the motorist’s license. Linn was on the Front Range on Wednesday to assist in the flood recovery and was unavailable for comment.
 
At any rate Ostrofsky denied speeding at all, and he told Judge Brooke Peterson of municipal court that he would put up $10,000 to have Linn take a lie-detector test.
 
“That’s not going to happen,” Peterson said. “It’s not how my system works.”
 
“I’m a citizen of this town, and I don’t like how this is being handled,” Ostrofsky said. “It’s not you, it’s the system.”
 
He initially pleaded not guilty to speeding 5 to 9 mph over the limit, which came with a $70 fine and one point assessed to his Texas license.
 
Time magazine in 2011 reported that Ostrofsky has made $50 million in the past two decades as an online entrepreneur. He counts former president George W. Bush among his friends, the Huffington Post reported.
 
He addressed Peterson a few hours before speaking before the Aspen Business Luncheon on the use of Internet-based products.
 
After he pleaded not guilty, Peterson told him that the matter would be set for trial. But Ostrofsky said he was returning soon to Houston and won’t be back until the holidays and then next summer.
 
Peterson offered to continue the matter for a year, but Ostrofsky ended up pleading no contest. Instead of paying the fine and being assessed the point on his license, the internet magnate opted to take an online driving course, which comes with a $100 city-imposed administrative fee.
 
He maintained afterward that he always watches his speed in his Ferrari.
 
“I don’t speed in that car. No way,” Ostrofsky said. “You specifically don’t speed when you have that kind of car. You’re very, very aware of this town and speeding.”
 
He said he consulted with an attorney ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. The lawyer advised him to get all the other Ferrari owners in Aspen — he estimated there are six or so — to come to court and speak about “how they’re targeted.”
 
Ostrofsky said that was too tough to arrange, but reiterated that he feels like a “target.”
 
Online police statistics show that “a red sports car is the No. 1 car that cops go after,” he said. “And so when you drive a red sports car in this town and you live here, you drive very slowly.”
 
However, according to snopes.com, a website that explores urban myths, that “premise is flawed as it does not appear that red cars get cited for speeding more often than they statistically should.”
 
And Pryor said his police department simply doesn’t engage in sports-car profiling.
 
“Over the last five years the APD has stopped approximately 21,000 vehicles,” he said in an email. “Of those stops, only 2,500 drivers, or around 12 percent, received tickets.
 
“That tells me that not only does the APD not ‘target’ sports cars, we don’t target anyone.”
 
Ostrofsky has 90 days to complete the class and send the court proof that he passed.

chad@aspendailynews.com