CHICAGO - On a late August afternoon in 2016, Larry Sodomire was caught in the crossfire during a federal drug sting in the parking lot of the Louis Joliet Mall. Dozens of shots were fired through Sodomire's $200,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. He says Drug Enforcement Administration agents pulled up as he was sitting in his car waiting to pick up his daughter from the shopping center.
"As soon as they get out of their car-pop, pop, pop! Somebody shooting at them. So I dove back in the car, I could hear the bullets going by me in the car," Sodomire told the I-Team. This is the first time he has spoken publicly about the incident.
Gunman Adan Godinez fired at police and was eventually shot in the legs and wounded. He was arrested along with his brother Fernando. On February 20, 2018, both pleaded guilty. In their plea agreements both admit to conspiring to sell two kilograms of cocaine to an undercover agent. Both also admit having guns and Adan acknowledged firing his weapon at law enforcement officers.
Sodomire says the DEA told him they would pay for everything because it was not his fault he was caught in the middle of a gun battle between drug dealers and federal agents. He claims dealing with the DEA to work out the payment details took more than six months. In that time he racked up a $35,000 storage fee. He was eventually able to get that fee reduced to $5,000 but finally turned to his insurance company to handle the nearly $34,000 cost to repair the high end SUV.
ABC legal analyst Gil Soffer told the I-Team Sodomire recovered more than some do when dealing with the government. He says, "You don't have the right to recover from the government even if you're an innocent bystander, even if your property is damaged except to the extent that the government says you can."
The repair costs and the knocked down storage fee was eventually covered but Sodomire says he is still on the hook for his $1,000 deductible and the $3,000 towing fee. He says he did everything the DEA asked of him, including testifying in front of a grand jury and agreeing to testify again at the Godinez's sentencing in June. Sodomire says he did not receive the same treatment in return, "If I try and sell the car right now, $60,000 it depreciated because the bullet holes in the side. And nobody cares about that, it's my problem. It's an insane story but the way they handled me was even worse."
The DEA turned down our request for an interview. In a statement to the I-Team a spokesperson says, "The DEA is fully committed to protecting our communities against narcotics traffickers who prey on those who suffer the scourge of addiction. As a matter of policy DEA cannot comment on pending legal matters. However, DEA makes every effort to right situations when innocent third parties are affected."