Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ENZO FOLLOWUP....I wasn't planning to follow up on our local bizarro story, but here's the latest on Stefan Eriksson and the crash last week of a million-dollar Ferrari Enzo in Malibu:

Eriksson survived the crash of the Ferrari, which was traveling at more than 160 mph, investigators said. When emergency workers arrived at the scene, Eriksson produced a card identifying him as "deputy commissioner" of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority police department's antiterrorism unit, according to the Sheriff's Department.

A few minutes later, two unidentified men arrived at the crash site on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and flashed cards and said they were from "homeland security," according to a Sheriff's Department report.

According the SGVTA website, they just hired a new chief of police, Philip Sugar. Ashley Posner, Chairman of the SGVTA Police Commission, had this to say: "Chief Sugar takes over at a time when mass transit is faced with perhaps its greatest challenges ever the post 911 era." He failed to address the burning question of why the SGVTA, a tiny agency that provides transportation for the handicapped and disabled, believes that global terrorism is even a pressing concern, let alone its greatest challenge.

But at least they haven't outsourced security to Dubai. That's something.

Kevin Drum 7:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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If we are going to get mass transit based on Ferraris, and this was just a test, then woo hoo! I am all for it.

Posted by: craigie on March 2, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

As I've said before, I have no comment on an ongoing investigation.

Posted by: Stefan on March 2, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Mrs. Cheney did it, with a candlestick, in the (Naval) Observatory.

Yeah, and Colonel Mustard got to watch.

Posted by: floopmeister on March 2, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

So, did those two guys who showed up actually have valid Homeland Security IDs, or did they just flash some cards that nobody looked at too closely at the time?

Posted by: RT on March 2, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

So perhaps the SGVTA are real sticklers for being on time to meetings?

Seriously though, this raises a lot more questions than it answers. As if there's anything serious about this story.

Posted by: cthulhu on March 2, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK


Would you like police with that ?

"...Monrovia Police Department Chief Roger Johnson said he checked out the department recently and found it is less than meets the eye.

"My impression at the time was that they were trying to get a police agency off the ground to go with their transit business," Johnson said. "I don't know if they have a police department to go with the website."..."

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." - Mark Twain

Posted by: daCascadian on March 2, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, so THAT's who that was, floop ; )

Didn't you even know who it was you shot?

You really peppered the Mustard, as I hear it.

Posted by: floopmeister on March 2, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

So, did those two guys who showed up actually have valid Homeland Security IDs, or did they just flash some cards that nobody looked at too closely at the time?

"Here come the Men in Black/Galaxy defenders..."


Posted by: Thlayli on March 2, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Well I would have to say that going 160 MPH on the Pacific Coast Highway sets a new standard for terrorism.

Posted by: dweb on March 2, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

What an odd story. It totally reminds me of Men in Black or some secret government agency using some non-existant agency as cover. Like the agent was involved in some James Bond type of moment, speeding along in a Ferrari, fighting the infamous terrorist Dietrich before the car spun out of control and crashed, with Dietrick once again escaping in the confusion. Next time Dietrich, next time! Of course, it also seems to have a goofy factor which is why it also reminds me of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear".

Okay, I obviously don't think that's what it was, but man what an odd story.

Posted by: hbot3000 on March 2, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, as I understand it, Eriksson had to step down from his last job (with a European electronics company) because he was reportedly involved with organized crime out of Sweden, having been convicted on multiple counts of fraud and counterfeiting in the early '90s.

So what's the deal here?

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on March 2, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

"So, did those two guys who showed up actually have valid Homeland Security IDs, or did they just flash some cards that nobody looked at too closely at the time?"

Maybe they were those ID's Jim Rockford used to print up in his trunk. Was the ink dry?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on March 2, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell is a "deputy commissioner" of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority doing with a Ferrari Enzo? The car's worth a million dollars.

I'm in the wrong line of work.

Posted by: JJF on March 2, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Eriksson has insisted he was a passenger in the Ferrari when it crashed. He said the driver was a man named "Dietrich" who fled from the scene.

Perfectly reasonable, nothing suspicious about that.

Posted by: Matt F on March 2, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Homeland security payola.

Posted by: JR on March 2, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is a perfect mystery for Kolchak, the Night Stalker... ah, shit!

This is a perfect mystery for McCloud... ah, shit!

This is ideal for Barney Fife... ah man, can't we catch a break here!

Posted by: dannyinla on March 2, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Let me guess... This has got to be part of the filming of a super-secret sequel to Crash, right? Right??

Posted by: David W. on March 2, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

And in a related story: LA freeway-chase-syndrome has spread to CNN.

I turned on CNN today to discover that they were covering - LIVE! - the story out of Lancaster/Palmdale, California of a young, distraught woman who had managed to commandeer a sherrif's SUV and was driving aimlessly around her neighborhood while the sherrif's department tried to talk her into stopping over the SUV's radio.

The CNN anchors were themselves distraught over the fact that the LA County Sherrif's department has the most stringent guidelines in the country about car pursuits (see how much I learned from this important breaking story?) and were merely following her with a helicoptor (no mean task as she was just driving around the same residential area).

To help inform a breathless public, CNN even had on a color comm.. uh, expert commentator (a retired LA police sergeant, of course) to explain to us why this policy was wrong and the sherrif's department should be out there chasing her, so her driving could go from being merely "erratic" - I'm quoting here - to, oh, I don't know, reckless maybe? The three huffed about this for some 30 minutes before I had a surfeit of being informed and turned the whole thing off.

This virus cannot be stopped. And CNN really, really sucks.

Posted by: lucienc on March 2, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

So what happened to Dieter? Was it the time on Sprockets when we dance?

Posted by: Ba'al on March 3, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

160 mph is fairly remarkable.

But Transit authority comissioner? What The Mother-Loving Fuck is that all about? They guy's an ex-dotcom scam artist. Why would anyone hand such a position over to him?

Next we're going to find out that he had ties to Randy Cunningham, and that the car was a gift from MZM.

Posted by: Mornington Nomic on March 3, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Monty Python could have a whole new career doing Homeland Security skits.

Posted by: Brian Boru on March 3, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

DHS rocks!

San Gabriel to Malibu in two minutes flat!

Those flying cars are totally worth $1million.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on March 3, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

The New Yorker had a informative (and funny) story about LA's weird obsession with the high-speed chase, "The Pursuit of Happiness" by Tad Friend, in their January 23rd issue. It noted that in 2004, LA County had 5,596 pursuits. Check it out (it's the issue with the Gahan Wilson cat cover).

Posted by: Calton Bolick on March 3, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

There is an interesting complaint made about SGVTA in the minutes of The Los Angeles County Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (at www.asila.org). To quote:

"The situation involved a rider with a service animal, that is the complainant, and two other passengers. The service animal user was pick up last on the shared ride route. Since the vehicle was a sedan, there was no room on the vehicle floor for the service animal to sit. For that reason, the complainant had the dog sit on his or her lap. The service animal weighs about eighty pounds according to the complainant. The complainant's grievance was that because the capacity on the sedan was limited, he or she had to have the service animal sit on his or her lap.

In other words this organisation didn't actually seem to have any buses at the time but instead used ordinary cars. So quite why they should need an undercover police force isn't really clear, seeing that the only free place left to sit would be on the driver's lap.

Which doesn't explain the story about the empty ammo clip found nearby which police are linking to the crash


Posted by: JJB on March 3, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

I've followed this story somewhat because I live near there.

One thing I've not seen so far is any mention of who the car was resgistered to. Why wouldn't they publish that?

Posted by: g on March 3, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

The ID may perhaps be explained by the fact that Mr. Posner is also Eriksson's personal lawyer.

Posted by: nypete on March 3, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Awww Hell, eets da same damm thang az when a Judge gits pulled over, shoe em sum ID, knock sum rings, and off yew go..

Hey lookie Judge, yew gots drugs in yer trunk..
yew be kareful an slow down eh Judge (wink wink)

Sheet, dunt yew guys know anythang 'bout high s'ciety?


Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 3, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

feck ol george even had a new driber license made fer hisself yupp. nummber 000000005

now 'ol george drives his pickemup
ah round crawferd Texxas just ah singin
to the small man on the Dash Bored

"ah dunt care if it reigns or freezes!
long as I hav mah plastic Jeebus!"

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 3, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

According to the latest from the LA Times,

"On its website, the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority lists its address as 148 E. Lemon Ave. in Monrovia. The location is Homer's Auto Service, an auto repair shop."


Which is rather remniscent of the way the International Headquarters of Mr Eriksson's old company Gizmondo in Texas was marked by a photocapied piece of paper stuck to the window of a kitchen showroom as reported in http://www.gamesasylum.com/showarticle.php?articleID=4424

And the Chairman of San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority's board just happens to be Mr Eriksson's personal lawyer.

Rather more worryingly it seems that the police are so on the ball with regard to national security that if someone turns up, flashes an official looking card and says "homeland security" then they are given free rein to do what they want with no questions asked and no names checked or even taken. Haven't these guys even seen Mission: Impossible?

Posted by: Steve on March 3, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK


you are spot on! CNN sucks, swallows and begs for more.

Ernie "The Sofa" Henredon
Your Internet Fat Guy

Posted by: Ernie "The Sofa" Henredon on March 3, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Who needs an NFL football team when you have high-speed chases? They are absolutely addictive. Our whole family gets together to watch 'em.

You know how it's going to end, but you watch anyway, hoping against hope the guy gets away.

Posted by: GAB on March 3, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK


I'm totally with you on that guilty pleasure. I'm always hoping the guy flees the car on foot, jumps a couple of fences, and then the next thing you know some chopper darts in and sweeps him off to safety. Perhaps to the docks, where a cigarette boat roars off with him on board.

Yeah, yeah, I know, public safety, respect for the law, etc etc but I still think it would be awful darn cool.

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

One thing I've not seen so far is any mention of who the car was resgistered to.

If you check the February 28 LA Times article mentioned above, it seems a "leading Scottish bank" may be the car's real owner. The article also says the car apparently didn't have the proper paperwork to be street-legal for the U.S.

Oh, and another car in Eriksson's possession just happened to be listed as stolen by Scotland Yard. A minor mixup, no doubt.

Posted by: Mahousu on March 3, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

It's actually an "Enzo Ferrari."

Posted by: Chris on March 3, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

"You know how it's going to end, but you watch anyway, hoping against hope the guy gets away."

To anyone reading this blog who does not already watch Keith Olberman's Countdown on MSNBC--start tuning in.

He gives great hilarious treatment to these chases with a running score-- Cops 76 Dopes 0.

He gives a similar score treatment to the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 3, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

160 miles per hour? And nobody killed? It still boggles my mind.

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Posted by: vdeedd on March 3, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

I've passed this on to a friend who is really into high end cars. Just made him cry to see that car smashed up.

Posted by: JohnK on March 4, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

The owner of the Bus Company that is now called the San Gabriel Valley transit Authority is Arabic! Did anyone think about some fools going around saying they are homeland security but related to obviously crooked arabs. Another good arguement for unabated capitalism.

Posted by: Trent Johnson on March 4, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

To the person who discovered the "complaint made about SGVTA" (see previous post), how did you find this? I've tried several Google searches with no luck. This is the first original research I have seen on the Enzo crash. Every other fact just ties back to articles from the LA Times and Malibu Times.

Suppose that the SGVTA was set up as a criminal front. What would have been the objective? To steal gov't transit funds? To be able to run a legally authorized police department? What sort of access to law enforcement records and data would such a fake police agency have? What sort of privileges would be given to its officers?

We have a great number of independent police authorities in the United States. Stefan Eriksson appears to have exposed a vulnerability. In general, Eriksson seems to be a character who tests the limits of things.

Posted by: cm04 on March 5, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK


I found the PDF file for the complaint you were asking about:
SGVTA complaint

Posted by: Fletch on March 5, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK



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