Stefan Eriksson is a Swedish businessman who became known for wrecking an Enzo Ferrari in California in 2006. He raced at Le Mans in 2005 but retired on Saturday morning.
Bo Stefan M. Eriksson is a Swedish businessman from Uppsala, Sweden, who was involved in the UK gaming company Gizmondo until it became insolvent in 2005. In 2006 he became known for wrecking an Enzo Ferrari in California.
Eriksson became known by the Swedish police as Tjock-Steffe ("Fat Steve") or, The Banker, by the local mob in Sweden's fourth largest city of Uppsala, roughly 60 km north of Stockholm. An auto body shop worker, he started his criminal career with thefts and a three-month prison term in 1981, followed in 1988 by another term of 3½ years for cocaine and arms-related convictions.
In the early 90s, Eriksson became the head of a group the Swedish press dubbed Uppsalamaffian (the "Uppsala mafia" or "Uppsala mob"), which was responsible for high-profile, violent crimes that were rarely seen in the country. Known as a playboy, he often showed off a 1,200 horsepower (890 kW), 63' Sea Ray offshore race boat, with a top speed of 56 knots (64 mph; 104 km/h). He named it Snövit (Snow White), and docked it on a small river in downtown Uppsala.
He was also seen driving a Mercedes SL with the license plate reading "GEO" (in Swedish, it is pronounced similar to the Cuban slang llello for cocaine, used by Al Pacino in the 1983 movie Scarface.) With a legal front Kanoninkasso ("Cannon debt collectors"), the group collected debts using threats and violence. Establishing a reputation, they started to dress in expensive suits and hold "business meetings" in exclusive Stockholm hotels.
Attempting to defraud the Swedish Bank Giro Central of 22 million kronor, Eriksson and Peter Uf, the other future executive of Gizmondo, were found guilty of fraud and counterfeiting. In 1993 and 1994, Eriksson was sentenced to ten years in prison, though he only served half his sentence. Court documents show Eriksson and a partner broke into a man's home, destroyed his property and punched him repeatedly in the face. Eriksson also held a knife to the man's throat, threatened to cut off his fingers and finally shoved a gun into the man's mouth. The Swedish police had great difficulty finding people who dared to testify and their lead witness was lucky to survive two bomb attacks.
In 2001, Eriksson joined Carl Freer in the UK based company Gizmondo, which intended to rival Nintendo and Sony for the handheld videogames market. Through some innovative financial transactions, Freer had been able to take his British electronics company onto the Nasdaq exchange and raise millions. Eriksson's salary in 2004 was £1.1million with bonuses amounting to another £145,000 and a car allowance of £5,000 per month. Eriksson's wife, Nicole Persson, was paid £90,000 for 'marketing and public-relations services' for just over one year.
In an attempt to promote the product, Eriksson competed at the 24 hours of Le Mans. He arrived in a Black Ferrari Enzo and entered the race in the Gizmondo sponsored Ferrari 360 Modena GTC in 2005 but would retire into the morning with mechanical troubles.
In October 2005, a Swedish paper revealed irregularities in the business dealings of Gizmondo and the criminal past of some members of management, including Eriksson. Eriksson, Freer and others resigned, and the company filed for bankruptcy after using up $300M, 90% in its last six months. The company was also involved in various litigation: Swedish Ogilvy Group, MTV, and the Jordan Grand Prix all filed million dollar suits. In August, shortly before his resignation, Gizmondo relocated Eriksson to California for its US launch. There were subsequently question marks around how the felon Eriksson was able enter the country. In early 2006, with ideas similar to now defunct Gizmondo's Smart Ads, the virtual mobile operator XeroMobile was started through Eriksson's earlier partners.
On February 21, 2006, Eriksson lost control of an Enzo Ferrari sports car, valued at over USD$1,000,000 while allegedly driving at high speed and intoxicated along the Pacific Coast Highway in California.
Police raided Eriksson's Bel-Air home and on April 8, 2006, Eriksson, who was preparing to leave the US, was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement, grand theft auto, drunken driving, cocaine possession and weapons charges stemming from a Magnum handgun encountered during the search. He is facing up to 14 years in prison. In May, misdemeanor hit and run and driving without a California license and insurance were added in relation to a Porsche Cayenne allegedly driven by Eriksson rear-ending an SUV near his Bel-Air home on January fourth.
On April 26th, Eriksson's accomplice Carl Freer was arrested on suspicion of impersonating a police officer, perjury and other unspecified charges stemming from the discovery of 12 rifles and four handguns during searches of his estate and his 100-foot yacht docked at Marina del Rey.
On May 9th, police raided the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority (a car body shop), arresting its owner and confiscating guns, badges, and a vehicle equipped to be an unmarked police car.
On November 3, 2006, a mistrial was declared, when the jury was deadlocked 10-2 toward convicting Eriksson. The prosecution has indicated their intent to retry the case.
Eriksson accepted a plea bargain for three years in jail and deportation. He pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement and one count of illegal gun possession. He avoided an auto theft charge. With allowance for time served and good behavior, he was released in 2008. He was then deported back to Sweden where he soon received an 18-month prison sentence for extortion and aggravated assault after pouring petrol on a target of his debt collection services. In October 2014, he was facing further charges of possession of cocaine and other drugs and driving under the influence of drugs.