Eriksson Ferrari crash case slams into mistrial

By Jill Leovy

Times Staff Writer

12:49 PM PST, November 3, 2006

A mistrial was declared today in the theft and embezzlement trial of Bo Stefan Eriksson, who was involved in the crash of a rare Enzo Ferrari.

Jurors began deliberations Thursday and told the judge today they were deadlocked. They had voted 10 to 2 for conviction, according to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Eriksson faced two counts of grand theft and fraudulent concealment with intent to defraud. Prosecutors said he stopped making payments on and tried to hide two luxury sports cars from the lenders.

This afternoon, prosecutors said they would retry Eriksson.

“We are going to try him. It was 10-2 for conviction, so obviously we believe we have a strong case,” said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.

Eriksson, 44, had already agreed to a plea deal on drunk-driving charges related to the spectacular crash of his 2003 red Enzo Ferrari, reported to be worth a million dollars. Police believe he was going 162 mph when it crashed on Pacific Coast Highway on Feb. 21.

The images of the severed and mangled car on the dusty Malibu roadside seemed to capture some spirit of debauched wealth and excess in Los Angeles, as if a Stradivarius violin had been smashed at some drunken beach party.

Afterward, the protagonist’s dark past came to light. These factors helped fan public interest in the case, along with the murky happenings surrounding the crash, such as the inexplicable appearance of men identifying themselves as Homeland Security officials and Eriksson’s insistence that a mystery man named Dietrich had been behind the wheel.

After the crash, Eriksson’s possession of two other cars came under scrutiny and deputies searching his Bel-Air house turned up a gun. Eriksson, who has nine criminal convictions in Sweden for forgery, narcotics and firearms offenses, cannot legally possess a gun. His trial on the gun offense could begin next week, Robison said.

This case dealt with auto theft and embezzlement charges.

Eriksson, former executive of a now bankrupt company, had been accused of transferring ownership of two cars, a black Enzo and a McLaren Mercedes-Benz, to employees, then shipping them abroad in violation of lending contracts.

Prosecutors called it a sophisticated scheme to spirit away the two valuable cars.

Eriksson’s defense attorney, Jim Parkman, said the banks had finessed a civil disagreement into criminal courts out of self-interest. He added that Eriksson’s contracts with them were more like a purchase than lease agreements.

Meanwhile, Eriksson will remain at the Men’s Central Jail because of ahold put in place by federal immigration agents

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