Man Sues Because DEA Still Won’t Pay For Stealing, Damaging His Truck During Botched Sting Two Years Ago


A lawsuit waged against the Federal government by a Houston businessman alleges that the Drug Enforcement Administration “commandeered” his freight truck and destroyed it during a shootout with members of the Zeta drug cartel.

Steven Craig Patty is suing the Federal government, Houston DEA Chief Javier Peña, Harris County, Harris County Det. Mark Reynolds and 12 John Doe law enforcement officers in Federal Court for using him as a pawn in a drug sting operation that could have been taken “straight out a television script.”

Patty quit his job of 15 years and started a trucking company with his father in July 2011 in hopes of capitalizing on the ongoing Texas oil and gas boom.

“He purchased a truck and hired a man named Joe Lopez to drive it,” the lawsuit says.

As the business grew, the businessman bought a second truck, a 2006 Kenworth.

“That same month his driver Lopez was sharing a room with [Lawrence] Chapa at a truck driver seminar in Fort Worth,” according to the complaint. “Through Lopez, Chapa approached Craig about being hired to drive the second red Kenworth. Patty checked Chapa’s record with the Department of Transportation. The record was free of criminal convictions. … It is alleged that the Drug Task Force officers named herein arranged to have a clean record and orchestrated his hiring by Patty.”

Chapa, however, wasn’t just an out-of-work guy looking for a job; he was an undercover DEA agent.

“Therefore, although Patty was paying Chapa’s salary, providing the truck for him to drive, and paying for the gas, instead of pursuing Patty’s legitimate business interests, Lawrence Chapa was actually working in an undercover sting operation for the Drug Task Force,” the lawsuit states.

“On or about November 21, 2011, in furtherance of their plan for the sting, officers of the Drug Task Force arranged for Lawrence Chapa to drive Patty’s truck to Rio Grande City, Texas.” The suit continues, “Chapa told Patty that he was having the truck repaired in Houston for a return drive to California. In fact, on orders of his Drug Task Force handlers, he drove it to Rio Grande City instead, where it was loaded up with marijuana, and, perhaps, other illegal narcotics or contraband.”

If being lied to and having his truck essentially stolen by authorities weren’t bad enough, things then took a turn for the worse for Patty’s property.

From the lawsuit: “When the red Kenworth arrived in Houston, all hell broke loose. The plan for the sting was for Lawrence Chapa to rendezvous with the bad guys so that a transfer of the illegal drugs could be made. At that point, the Task Force officers would swoop in and make arrests. But the officers of the Drug Task Force were outwitted by the Mexican drug lords. On Monday afternoon, November 21, 2011, the truck was intercepted in northwest Houston by outlaws from the Zeta cartel, driving in three sport utility vehicles. An intense firefight ensued. An undercover Harris County sheriff’s deputy was wounded, and Lawrence Chapa was shot eight times and killed. Patty’s red truck was wrecked and riddled with bullet holes.

“It was a major fiasco; and a major media event on the evening news. For example, KTRK ran a six and a half minute story on the shooting. The footage clearly depicted the license plate of Patty’s truck, making him fear, of course, that his identity would be discovered by the Zeta cartel and that they, believing he had cooperated with Chapa and the Task Force, might seek retribution.”

A Houston Chronicle story from July 2012, described the fear that Patty and his family now endure because of the government misadventure:

Panic at the Patty home these days can be triggered by something as simple as a deer scampering through the wooded yard or a car pulling into the driveway. One morning as his wife made breakfast, one of his young sons suddenly bolted across the house yelling, ‘Get the guns!’

A Bronco sport utility vehicle had pulled into the driveway past a broken gate. The dogs were barking in the darkness. Patty grabbed a pistol and headed for the front yard.

The Bronco pulled away, leaving a shiny object by the front walkway. It turned out to be the morning newspaper wrapped in a plastic bag reflecting a neighbor’s floodlight.

The whole ordeal has forced his children to grow up more quickly than he’d like, Patty said.

‘I wanted to keep them young as long as I could,’ he said. ‘I’ve gone to great lengths to keep my son believing in Santa Claus, and now I’m talking to him about death, mayhem and drug cartels.’

After his truck was destroyed, Patty alleges that police called him and ordered that he remove the vehicle from the scene of the crime or be charged a daily storage fee by the cops. The lawsuit also indicates that the police — who put Patty in the predicament to begin with — then ordered a search warrant for the truck that they had taken.

“Patty’s truck contained a tracking device known as a ‘Tele a Tracker.’ It is akin to a black box that records the locations where the truck has been. When the law enforcement officials learned about this device, Detective Reynolds demanded that Patty sign a search warrant, and threatened him with seizure of his truck and trailer if he did not cooperate. Amazingly, the search warrant that was tendered included an authorization to search the Pattys’ home.”

After having his truck taken and damaged by the State, Patty was informed that he would be footing the bill for the damages to his vehicle.

“The government never paid to have Craig Patty’s truck repaired,” according to the complaint. “Nor did his insurance company. The insurance company took the position that the damage was caused by ‘unauthorized’ or ‘illegal’ activity. Consequently, Patty ultimately had to take money out of his 401k retirement funds to pay to have the bullet holes and other physical damage to his truck repaired and to have the blood and other stains removed from the cab.”

The businessman is seeking $1.48 million in damages.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

  • ibn insha

    The moral of story is it did not happen overnight. Over decades we have allowed government to have unchecked authority. During this time anybody who questioned government’s unlimited authority we ridiculed those people and called them paranoid. Now the chicken have come home to roost. It will take even more time and sacrifices to undo it.

    • podunk1

      Make sure plaintiff attends every meeting and hearing in the judicial process, Demand a jury up front and in the record! Don't let any lawyer's statements opinions, or interpretations of fact be entered into the record. Make sure counter claim accusations against the plaintiff are 100% backed by recorded oath bound testimony and documented fact! Demand factual documentation, direct factual linkage, and actual witness evidence as a basis for any defense evidence. Get key plaintiff witness recorded on tape and in the record immediately – otherwise appeals & time will kill the case & charges. TRUST NO ONE, especially federal courts and appeals courts. The ideal setting is a local court and jury that must honor the Constitution.

      Constitution, Article VI Clauses 2 & 3..:
      Clause 3 – "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive
      and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution."

      4th – "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…"
      6th -: "…enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed."
      7th – "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."
      14th – "…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

      I am 100% in support of any law enforcement agency or official who supports the Constitution and laws that do not violate the Constitution! Likewise.100% against any lawless in that respect! Bring the wrath of God and Country down on every individual involved top – down. Remember, damages assessed on government are paid by tax payers – lay that wrath of those responsible not individual tax paying citizens!

    • Vis Fac

      Unfortunately those who want and work to make a difference are maligned and labeled as terrorists by those who are under the government’s wing. In other words those entitlement receiving liberals who don’t want to lose their gravy train.

      To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the wolf hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

      You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est

  • Deerinwater

    If there are no major omissions, Mr. Patty certainly has a good case. It will be interesting to see how it works out. Sadly the man that can offer the most light on the case is dead.

  • TexRancher

    I hope that Patty wins any suit he files in this case and that it includes “loss of revenue” as well. Further, I hope that the law enforcement types he engineered this fiasco are penalized for stealing his truck though that’s unlikely!

  • hippybiker

    Oxymoron=”I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

    • Motov

      Help** Themselves to your property, liberties, and obstruct us from the pursuit of happiness.

    • Motov

      Help** Themselves to your property, liberties, and obstruct us from the pursuit of happiness.

  • red55bird

    Everyone should know this by now, but when Government this big can give you everything ,they also can take everything from you including your freedom, this is not the Government of the people, but the Government over the people. This President is fundamentally transforming America into a Socialist State, and we sit back and do nothing. Separation of powers by the branches of Government our all defunct by letting this President over ride the Constitution of the United States of America, both Congress and the Senate have taken to working for themselves instead of working for the people.

    • podunk1

      Right on target. Thanks,

      Enforce the letter of the Constitution. Recall the progressive (republican & democrat) majority NOW! Get any we can get & replace them with people who will honor the Constitution as that document exists, period!

    • paendragon

      Montesquieu was wrong.

      There is no system of checks & balances, division of powers etc – as even Aristotle noted long ago, the legislative branch only looks to the future, the forensic judiciary only looks to the past, while only the executive is free to rampage at will in the present; none of them pays even the slightest attention to any of the others!

  • dan

    Being all red-necked and all…i’d call it truck theft under color of law …
    but I grew up thinking you didn’t mess with another man’s hoss, woman or way to make an honest living without risking being hung from an old oak tree….
    AND restitution made.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    I rember when that happend , they need to pay the man ,

  • ted

    He should also turn to his elected officials for their help. It would be a good test for Ted Cruz to see how constitutional he is. Don’t know who his rep is – if its Shelia Jackson Lee, that will be a waste of time.

  • paendragon

    Re: “Patty’s truck contained a tracking device known as a ‘Tele a Tracker.’ It is akin to a black box that records the locations where the truck has been. When the law enforcement officials learned about this device, Detective Reynolds demanded that Patty sign a search warrant, and threatened him with seizure of his truck and trailer if he did not cooperate. Amazingly, the search warrant that was tendered included an authorization to search the Pattys’ home.”


  • Alan

    Our government has become the lowest form of trash possible. There must have been another way to accomplish their goal without involving this civilian. To top it off, his equipment was wrecked with no compensation, and his family terrorized with unnessesary search. These wreckless federal agencies need to be brought under control, as well as being made to pay for their stupidity.

  • Motov

    Government neglect and abuse policies have been getting way out of control!
    What ever happened to being presumed innocent until proven guilty?
    I would love to see all who were in on this “legalized theft” not only get fired but also face criminal charges. The trucker should also get an apology from the agencies involved.