- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2006

Ferrari crash driver gets 31/2 years

A Swedish former video game executive who made headlines by destroying a $1 million Ferrari in a spectacular crash was sentenced Tuesday to 31/2 years in prison after pleading guilty in Los Angeles to embezzlement and drunken-driving charges, prosecutors said.

Under terms of a surprise plea agreement entered just days after a jury deadlocked on the charges against him, Bo Stefan Eriksson, 44, also had his multimillion-dollar California mansion seized and was ordered deported from the United States after serving his sentence, Reuters news agency reported.

Eriksson’s trial for car theft and embezzlement had ended in a mistrial only last week after the jury split 10-2 for conviction.

The Swede returned to Los Angeles Superior Court and entered a guilty plea to embezzlement and illegal weapon possession charges. In exchange, the theft charges were dropped. Earlier, Eriksson pleaded no contest, the California equivalent of guilty, to drunken driving.

“Justice was served by the plea,” Deputy District Attorney Tamara Hall said after the hearing Tuesday.

This is a fair resolution and is consistent with a majority of jurors who found him guilty on the embezzlement charges.”

A lawyer for Eriksson said the plea came about in part because his client was concerned about the cost and time involved in another trial.

Eriksson, a former executive with the bankrupt video game company Gizmondo Europe, was speeding on exclusive Malibu’s winding coastal road at 160 mph in February when he smashed his rare Enzo Ferrari into a power pole, slicing it in half. He walked away unhurt.

Prosecutors said the Ferrari and two other sports cars worth $4 million were imported to California without the agreement of British banks, which leased them to Eriksson.

Consumer Reports has car-buying tips

Shoppers can call Consumer Reports New Car Price Service for information about the cost of various vehicles.

Armed with the wholesale, invoice and sticker prices, buyers can then negotiate up from the wholesale price, rather than down from the sticker price:

In other words, they can decide how much profit to give the dealer. Smart buyers also should be knowledgeable about the extra costs of undercoating, rust-proofing, fabric protection and an extended warranty.

Also, they should wait until after agreeing on the purchase price of a new vehicle before talking about a trade-in deal.

Consumer Reports provides estimated values of used cars at 800/509-9376.

Buyers like silver best of all colors

The most popular car color for six consecutive years is silver, according to PPG Industries.

When automakers start rolling out 2009 and 2010 models, the most popular color will remain some shade, tint or hue of silver.

Until consumers demand something else, silver will remain the most precious color for all auto manufacturers in the U.S., where one in five vehicles sold this year is silver.

Mail items of interest to Auto Notes, care of Bill O’Brien, The Washington Times Copy Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Or send items of interest via e-mail to [email protected]washingtontimes.com. The deadline is 5 p.m. on the Monday before the date of publication.

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