LOS ANGELES – A Swedish businessman involved in the high-speed crash of a rare Ferrari on a coastal highway pleaded not guilty Monday to embezzlement and other counts involving the alleged theft of a collection of exotic cars.
Bo Stefan M. Eriksson, 44, did not speak during the hearing charging him with felony counts of embezzlement, grand theft and possession of a gun by a felon. He also was charged with two misdemeanor counts of drunken driving.
His attorney, David Elden, entered the plea on his client's behalf as Eriksson listened behind a glass barrier.
Bail was set at $5.5 million to cover the $3.8 million cost of the cars and because Eriksson was considered a flight risk, prosecutor Tamara Hall said.
Elden said his client was not a flight risk because he owns a home and business in the area.
Eriksson could be sentenced to as many as 14 years in prison.
A former executive with the European video game company Gizmondo, Eriksson imported two Enzo Ferraris and a rare Mercedes, prosecutors said.
The cars are owned by British financial institutions and leased to Eriksson, prosecutor Steven Sowders said in a statement. The lease agreement did not allow Eriksson to take the cars out of Britain, Sowders said.
Authorities contend that Eriksson, arrested in early April, was behind the wheel of an Enzo Ferrari — one of only 400 made — when it was wrecked Feb. 21 on the Pacific Coast Highway in west Malibu. The car crashed into a pole at 162 mph, totaling the $1 million vehicle.
Eriksson told police he was a passenger in the car and that the driver was a German acquaintance he knew only as Dietrich. He said Dietrich ran into the hills, but a search by deputies turned up no one.
During a search of Eriksson's house in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, authorities said they discovered a handgun. Prosecutors said the weapons charge stemmed from a counterfeiting conviction against Eriksson in Sweden in the early 1990s.