Ferrari driver accepts a plea bargain

Times Staff Writer

It started with a crash and ended with a fizzle as Bo Stefan Eriksson, identified as the driver of the infamous smashed red Ferrari Enzo, accepted a plea deal Tuesday in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Eriksson, 44, is expected to spend about a year in prison after pleading no contest to two counts of embezzlement related to his dealings with two exotic cars and one count of possessing a gun illegally. An auto theft charge was dismissed.

The court proceeding Tuesday signaled a curtain falling on the colorful Eriksson drama, which captivated public attention after images of the red Ferrari reduced to a severed wreck on Pacific Coast Highway showed up on newscasts last February.


Not only have Eriksson’s remaining two fantastically expensive exotic cars -- a black Ferrari Enzo and a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren -- been shipped back to European banks, but prosecutors said Tuesday that Eriksson’s Bel-Air house will go into receivership. Eriksson stands to be deported after he gets out of prison, though his lawyer Alec Rose said he had planned to leave voluntarily anyway.

Even the Smith & Wesson gun found at his house will be gone: It was confiscated by police and will be destroyed.

“Mr. Eriksson looked over the situation, and there was a meeting of the minds and that’s why he settled,” Rose said. The settlement was possible once “emotions were out of the way,” he added.

“Justice has prevailed,” said prosecutor Tamara Hall.

A jury deadlocked last week on charges that Eriksson, a former executive of a bankrupt company, had been involved in a scheme to bring the black Enzo and the Mercedes SLR McLaren to the U.S. illegally. The vote was 10 to 2 in favor of guilt.

Eriksson faced a retrial in that case and a separate trial on the weapons possession charge. Eriksson had already agreed to a plea deal resolving a drunk-driving charge.

Technically, Eriksson’s sentence is three years in state prison followed by up to three years’ parole, a $5,000 fine and restitution in an amount to be determined in a hearing Dec. 7. But because of the time he has already spent in jail as well as other allowances, he is expected to be freed in a year or so, his attorney said.

Eriksson appeared in court to enter his plea just before noon Tuesday. The big Swede seemed tense in his bright orange jail smock -- his face taut, his smile pained and his forehead deeply furrowed. He glanced frequently back at his wife as the hearing got underway and looked wan as he relinquished his rights one by one. His replies, in Swedish, were then rendered as “yes” by his translator.

He interrupted the proceedings twice to ask his lawyer questions. Once, Rose approached the bench to clarify a point, but otherwise the hearing went smoothly. When it ended, Eriksson rose immediately and retreated with deputies and his lawyers through a side door.

At the Dec. 7 hearing, attorneys are expected to wrangle over how much Eriksson will have to pay to the two British banks that had sought to repossess the black Enzo and the Mercedes. The cars are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Eriksson’s attorneys argued that he had considerable equity in both vehicles.

Eriksson survived the crash of the red Ferrari on Feb. 21 in Malibu, although the car, believed to have been traveling at about 162 mph, was destroyed. The car’s estimated worth was about $1 million.