It's been said that watching a car crash is a grimly compelling sight: One simply can't turn away. That was almost certainly the case when former Gizmondo executive Stefan Eriksson went sailing off the road in a $1 million 2003 Ferrari Enzo at more than 160mph in February and walked away from the totaled wreck with little more than a bloody mouth.
But as compelling as the wreck itself might have been to watch, it's hard to imagine it outshining the twisting saga surrounding it, which includes ties to the Swedish mafia, Homeland Security, a clip of ammunition, and one person apparently fleeing the country on a luxury yacht. The latest turn has seen the 44-year-old Eriksson arrested and held without bail on charges of grand theft.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Eriksson was taken into custody Saturday night after a six-hour search of his gated Bel Air, California, home. Authorities told The Times that the wrecked Enzo, another Enzo found at the estate, and a rare Mercedes-Benz in Eriksson's possession were owned by foreign financial institutions. The cars were reportedly purchased by Eriksson last year when he lived in Britain, though the title holders told police that he had stopped making payments on them.
"This is the beginning of the investigation," a police spokesman told The Times. "All three cars have now been confiscated."
A San Francisco Chronicle report over the weekend raises a number of the questions that investigation will look to answer. For instance, a spokesman with the Malibu police told The Chronicle that Eriksson presented ID at the crash scene saying he was the head of an antiterrorism police unit. Two friends of Eriksson's arrived after the crash, presented similar ID, and claimed to work for Homeland Security.
It turns out Eriksson's ID was for a security position with the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority. The SGVTA is a nonprofit outfit that provides free transportation to elderly and disabled people in that area. The Chronicle reports that Eriksson was granted the position and title of his choosing within the SGVTA's security operation in exchange for outfitting its buses with surveillance systems.
The owner of Homer's Auto Service, the business that operates the SGVTA, told The Chronicle that it's perfectly legal for transit authorities to set up their security outfits as "police" and issue ID cards. He said background checks on drivers are easier when they're being requested by police.
The article mentions another man who was with Eriksson when Malibu police arrived at the scene of the crash. It was not "Dietrich," the German man who Eriksson said was driving the car at the time of the crash and hastily fled the scene, but Trevor Karney, an Irishman who said he had been trailing Eriksson as the ex-Gizmondo exec raced against a silver Mercedes-Benz. Authorities have not confirmed that there was a race, or even a Mercedes-Benz present at the time of the crash.
Police discovered that Karney asked to use the cell phone of another motorist who stopped at the scene. The spokesman told The Chronicle that Karney made a call from the front seat of that man's vehicle, and that the driver later contacted police to say he found a loaded Glock handgun clip under the seat. Police attempted to reach Karney at the address he'd given them, only to find that it belonged to a luxury yacht that had set sail. Police said they believe he left for Ireland.
According to the Times, Eriksson is currently being held without bail after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement put a hold on him. Future charges could be brought against him if he is determined to have been driving the Ferrari at the time of the accident. Eriksson tested above the legal limit for alcohol at the scene of the crash, and the car was not road legal in the US.