Ferrari Case Continues to Widen

Apr. 10, 2006
Times Staff Writers

The investigation into a former Swedish video game executive whose rare Ferrari crashed in Malibu widened Monday as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency confirmed it is investigating Stefan Eriksson.

Eriksson, 44, is expected to appear in court today or Wednesday after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested him over the weekend. They allege that his $3.5-million car collection — the red Ferrari Enzo, a black Enzo and a custom Mercedes — belonged to British financial institutions, not to him.

Sheriff’s officials told The Times on Monday that in addition to the cars, detectives who searched his Bel-Air home seized several computers, a firearm and a substance believed to be cocaine. Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said the substance is now being tested.


Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, declined to provide details about the inquiry. But one question that has emerged since the crash is how Eriksson was able to get the rare cars into the United States — especially if British financial institutions claimed ownership of them.

Kice said that the customs agency has placed an immigration hold on Eriksson so if he is released from the county’s Men’s Central Jail it will be able to take him into custody.

“He is potentially subject to deportation,” she said.

The federal probe is just one of several into Eriksson and the crash.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the Malibu accident as well as a San Gabriel Valley transit company where Eriksson served as a member of the “anti-terrorism” unit. Scotland Yard has told local authorities it is investigating the ownership of at least one of the cars in his collection.

Although no one was seriously injured in the February crash, the investigation has generated significant attention because of the strange circumstances surrounding it and the fact that it destroyed one of the only 400 Enzos ever built. Authorities believe the car was going 162 mph when it smashed into a power pole.

Eriksson told deputies who arrived at the scene that he was not the driver and that a man named Dietrich had been behind the wheel. Eriksson said Dietrich fled the scene.

Investigators took a swab of Eriksson’s saliva in order to compare his DNA to blood found on the Ferrari’s driver-side air bag. The results are back, but detectives won’t release the findings.

A blood-alcohol test on Eriksson at the time showed him to be above the legal limit for driving in California, so he could face several other charges if he is found to be the driver.

Eriksson also told deputies at the scene that he was deputy commissioner of the police department of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority, a tiny private agency that provides rides to the disabled and elderly. A few minutes after the crash, two men arrived at the scene, identified themselves as Homeland Security officers and spoke to Eriksson at length before leaving. Detectives are investigating any connection Eriksson may have had to the agency.

Eriksson’s attorney could not be reached for comment. Detectives over the weekend spent more than six hours searching his home in the posh Bel-Air Crest gated community. Several neighbors reached Monday said they didn’t notice the search and didn’t know Eriksson.

Before arriving in Los Angeles, Eriksson was an executive with Gizmondo, a European video game company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year with more than $200 million in debt. According to Swedish authorities, he served prison time in the early 1990s after being convicted of financial crimes.