David Juntunen (Courtesy of Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)
The gray Lamborghini must've looked as tempting as it was fast.
So tempting, prosecutors allege, that one night last March, the businessman entrusted by a customer to store the sports car over the winter squeezed into its bucket seats with a lady friend and took the car for a very fast spin.
The joyride that David Norman Juntunen and Pamela Jean DuPont took came to an abrupt end when Juntunen slammed the 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo into three trees, knocked over a light pole and tore off a front wheel, causing more than $84,000 in damage to the car.
Hennepin County prosecutors say that what followed was a string of lies to investigators that resulted in both Minneapolis residents being charged Friday, Jan. 25, with insurance fraud and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Juntunen, 39, is in jail in lieu of $80,000 bail and is to make his first court appearance Monday. DuPont, 40, was charged through a summons; no court appearance has been scheduled for her yet.
Juntunen -- who sometimes calls himself "Superdave" -- runs Top Gear Autoworks on Minneapolis' East Lake Street. The business services and provides storage for exotic foreign cars. A message left at the business was not immediately returned Friday.
"Top Gear was started by David 'Superdave' Juntunen who has garnered local acclaim as a responsible, experienced and trustworthy automotive specialist," proclaims the company's website, adding "What makes us different? In a word ... ethics."
Butcops in nine Minnesota counties know him as something else: a convicted sex offender, drunken driver, repeat traffic offender and a guy who'll flee. State records show that before Friday's criminal complaint was filed, Juntunen had been charged with 59 crimes in 30 court cases; 38 of the charges involved driving-related offenses, including 13 counts of driving after his license had been revoked and 10 counts of driving while impaired.
His state record includes convictions for criminal sexual conduct, driving after cancellation (five times), driving while intoxicated (two times), reckless driving and, most recently, fleeing a police officer in 2010.
He's due in court in Ramsey County on Feb. 11 on a charge of reckless driving filed in November -- a charge filed eight days after he pleaded guilty to driving 83 mph in a 70-mph zone in Freeborn County. A week after he was charged in that speeding case, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Hennepin County.
In the new criminal complaint, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Paul Scoggin wrote that in November 2011, a man identified in the complaint only as "J.K.C." contracted with Juntunen's business to service and provide winter storage for two cars, including the Lamborghini.
A month later, the man emailed Juntunen and told him that since the cars were in storage, he had suspended their collision insurance.
The first Gallardo rolled off Lamborghini's Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, assembly line in 2003. Various online sources put the value of a 2007 Gallardo (depending on appointments) as between $178,550 to $200,000.
It has a top speed of nearly 200 mph and as one online reviewer noted: "This thing is so quick, so fast, so loud, and sounds so angry at full-throttle that it may scare kids, old people, pets, and livestock. But that's just part of its charm."
The complaint says that on the night of March 8, Juntunen took the Lamborghini out of storage.
About 1:45 a.m. March 9, a Fridley police officer had stopped a suspected drunken driver on University Avenue and was having the car towed when a Lamborghini sped by "at a high rate of speed," Scoggin wrote.
The tow truck driver got part of the license plate number.
About 15 minutes later, residents near B.F. Nelson Park on Main Street East in Minneapolis heard a crash. A car had struck three trees and knocked over a light pole. But when Minneapolis Park Police were called to the scene the next day, there was no car.
What followed was old-fashioned police work, said Lt. Robert Goodsell, who heads investigations for the park police.
He said there was no telling what speed the sports car was going when it hit the trees, but it was fast.
"I would say the damage to hit the trees, to take down the trees and the light poles and rip the wheel off the car, I would say that would take some velocity," said Goodsell. "For parts like that to be removed, it's hard to say what speed it was going. What does it take to rip a front wheel off a car?"
According to the criminal complaint, Juntunen had the car towed back to his business and didn't report the incident to police. Later that day, he filed a claim with Top Gear's insurer, whose adjustor determined it would cost $84,480.12 to repair the car.
Juntunen initially told the insurance company that he'd been driving the car to another Top Gear storage facility, but he apparently later said the car was being driven by DuPont, who had started working at Top Gear a few weeks before the crash, the complaint said.
When police spoke to Juntunen and DuPont, they claimed DuPont had been driving and "swerved to avoid striking an animal and went off the road where the vehicle hit trees and light poles," Scoggin wrote.
The insurance company didn't think their stories added up. The insurer told Juntunen and DuPont that they'd have to give sworn statements about the crash, but neither showed up on the scheduled date.
The insurer refused to pay the claim.
Scoggin said that on Dec. 13, Juntunen met with the vehicle's owner and admitted he took the Lamborghini out without permission.
The owner asked him why he wouldn't go back to the insurer and ask them to pay for the damage, and "Juntunen said, 'If I ask them to pay based on the statements I gave, I'm going to prison. It's insurance fraud,' " Scoggin wrote.
The owner had only storage insurance on the vehicle and, as Scoggin noted, "To date, the damaged Lamborghini has not been repaired."
The criminal complaint notes that because of Juntunen's driving-related convictions, "any vehicle he operates is required to be equipped with ignition interlock."
The insurance fraud claim against both alleges that they conspired to defraud the insurance company by lying about the crash and concealing facts about it. The maximum sentence for insurance fraud is 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The second count each faces accuses them of taking the car without the owner's consent. That crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.