Controversies

Mort Zuckerman Reportedly Hit and Ran

On what was described as a “clear, sunny afternoon” in August, Boston Properties’ founder Mortimer Zuckerman reportedly veered off Main Street in Long Island’s East Hampton Village and crashed into a single mother’s parked Ford Fusion, leaving the scene after affixing a note atop the crushed vehicle.

The East Hampton Star and later the New York Post reported that Mr. Zuckerman totaled Charlene Peele’s car on August 11 after smashing it with his 2010 Lexus. Now his insurance company is offering Ms. Peele just $13,000 for the car – a fraction of the $17,700 she owes on it. In addition, the debacle comes just three weeks before she plans to relocate to Miami.

“I’m going to work in Coconut Grove in Miami,” she told the Star. “I’m screwed.”

According to the police report seen by the Star, a witness called 911 at 3:30 p.m. after seeing Mr. Zuckerman’s car drive away from the scene. Mr. Zuckerman, who was not ticketed for the incident, later told police that he “looked away from the roadway” before the accident. Officers also gave Ms. Peele a note Mr. Zuckerman left on Ms. Peele’s Ford.

“I got a phone call in the afternoon from the Police Department saying my car had been hit,” Ms. Peele said. “An officer was waiting for me at the car. The car was totaled.”

The following day Ms. Peele called Mr. Zuckerman’s assistant, who said, “No problem. We’ve been expecting your phone call.”

(Photo: Charlene Peele)

(Photo: Charlene Peele)

But problems ensued when a packet Ms. Peele reportedly received from Bedford Insurance Brokerage said she would receive just over $13,000, leaving her to come up with the remaining $4,000 she owes on her car loan.

The Star reported what could be interpreted as inconsistencies in the handling of the incident by police:

Police normally provide accident reports to the press within one week of the occurrence, but they had yet to do so as of last week, according to the report; and, the New York State Vehicular Traffic Law requires a driver striking an unoccupied, parked car to report the accident “as soon as physically able to the nearest police station, or judicial officer.” Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident is a traffic violation punishable with a fine of up to $250 or a maximum of 15 days in jail.

Mr. Zuckerman, who also publishes the New York Daily News and U.S. News and World Report, did not return The Commercial Observer’s calls seeking comment in time for publication.

Owen Thomas succeeded Mr. Zuckerman as CEO of Boston Properties in April.

Follow Al Barbarino on Twitter or via RSS. abarbarino@observer.com