No one laughs, when California comedienne crashes into Tonkin dealership

Cops ruled out booze as a cause – but drugs may have been in the suspect’s system. Reasons for the 4 AM rampage that caused a lot of damage are scarce …

After clearing away shattered glass from the entrance of the Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo showroom on NE 122nd Avenue, workmen prepare to install new plate glass windows.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Around 4:00 a.m. on March 4, a Honda sedan with California license plates hit the heavy steel chain guarding the entry to the Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo exotic car dealership, at 203 NE 122nd Avenue, with such force that it easily gave way.

The driver then used her car as a battering ram, as she allegedly smashed it into the main showroom building, and also into the steel roll-up doors that protect the Ferraris in the rear building.

As the dealership’s alarms sounded, a witness called 9-1-1, and then reportedly followed the car as it exited the dealership’s lot.

The car first hit and broke this heavy steel chain that was stretched across the dealership’s driveway.

A steel mesh roll-up door saved this exotic vehicle from damage. However the glass and roll-up door were destroyed.

“We have surveillance video cameras all over the dealership,” a Tonkin employee confided later that morning. “It was really something to see, as the car smashed into the showroom windows, and the steel doors that protect our bays in the back building. There was glass all over the place; but none of the vehicles was damaged.”

Fails getaway attempt
The driver of the now-battered Honda finally took off northbound on NE 122nd Avenue, past NE Glisan Street.  Police officers rushed to the area, and located the car near the intersection of NE 122nd Avenue and Halsey Street.

“The driver tried to elude the police,” said Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat. “Officers had to ‘box in’ the car to get it to stop.”

Wheat said the driver was, at first, uncooperative with officers, and was Tased. “It’s unclear if the Taser probes struck the subject,” Wheat added.

Police charged this woman, Francesca Lavezzo, with three counts related to the odd incident.

Officers took the woman, identified as 33-year-old Francesca Lavezzo, for medical observation at Portland Adventist Hospital, before she was booked into the downtown Multnomah County Jail.  She was released from custody later that same day.

“Lavezzo was charged with one count of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, one count of Felony Elude, and one count of Hit and Run,” Wheat reported. “It was originally reported that this incident did not involve alcohol or drugs. At this time, officers still do not believe alcohol was a factor, but there is a possibility that drugs were involved in this incident.”

We asked Detective Wheat if Lavezzo – reportedly a stand-up comic and actress at clubs in Los Angeles – presented out-of-state identification. “Lavezzo gave a North Portland address – but the car she was driving did have California plates.”

A website for the “11th Hour Comedy” group in Los Angeles displays a webpage for “Francesca Lavezzo”, and the data thereon matches the physical description (6 ft tall, 160 lbs, with brown hair and brown eyes), and provides a similar-looking photograph for the woman police charged with the mayhem at the Tonkin dealership.

It is unknown why Lavezzo is in Portland, or what triggered her alleged vehicular rampage.

The driver of the offending car dented several of the steel roll-up doors at this Tonkin dealership, out 122nd way, before leaving the lot.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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