Ferrari Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Crash Charges

From Associated Press

12:36 PM PDT, May 30, 2006

A Swedish businessman who crashed a rare Ferrari Enzo on the Pacific Coast Highway pleaded not guilty today to grand theft of the car, embezzlement and drunken-driving charges.

Bo Stefan Eriksson, 44, appeared briefly in Superior Court in an orange prison jumpsuit, his hands shackled. His plea to seven felony charges and two misdemeanors was entered by his newly hired attorneys, Alec Rose [Jim Parkman, Martin Adams and William White].

Eriksson is currently being held on $3 million bail and a federal immigration hold, but Rose indicated outside court that he would seek his client’s release. Rose said he expects his client’s trail, now set for July 31, to be postponed.

“We intend to prove in trial he’s not guilty,” Rose said. “He denies any car was stolen.”

According to prosecutors, Eriksson brought two luxury Ferrari Enzos and a Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren to the United States from Great Britain in violation of lease agreements with British banks that prohibited taking the cars out of the country. One of the Enzos was destroyed Feb. 21, when it hit a utility pole at 162 mph on the highway in Malibu. Eriksson suffered only a cut lip, but the red sports car, one of only 400 Enzos made, was ripped apart.

Eriksson initially identified the driver as a German man named Dietrich but later acknowledged he was driving the car, according to testimony from a sheriff’s investigator. Authorities say Eriksson also claimed to be a deputy commissioner with the “antiterrorism division” of a transit agency in the suburban San Gabriel Valley.

Eriksson is a former executive with Gizmondo Europe Ltd., a computer game company that went bankrupt last year. He spent five years in a Swedish prison in the 1990s for assault, extortion and other crimes.

He is charged with three counts of embezzlement, three counts of grand theft and illegal gun possession, all felonies, plus two misdemeanor counts of drunken driving. Authorities say they found a .357-caliber handgun registered to a reserve Orange County sheriff’s deputy at Eriksson’s Bel-Air mansion.

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