NEW YORK -- New York prosecutors have dropped charges that Lapo Elkann, grandson of late Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, falsely reported he was kidnapped in November in an effort to get ransom money.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said on Wednesday it had declined to prosecute the case but gave no other details.
Elkann, 39, had apparently concocted a fake abduction scheme after running out of cash during a drug-fueled partying binge, a law enforcement source said.
A U.S. defense lawyer for Elkann, Randy Zelin, confirmed there would be no prosecution and said his client was grateful justice had prevailed. "The District Attorney's Office conducted a thorough and exhaustive investigation and determined my client had not done anything criminally," he said.
Zelin declined to provide details of what the investigation showed. Earlier reports about the incident had amounted to "false news," he said.
Elkann is an heir to Italy's biggest industrial dynasty, along with his older brother, Fiat Chrysler Chairman John Elkann. Lapo Elkann nearly died of a drug overdose in 2005 after collapsing in the apartment of a transsexual prostitute.
While the elder Elkann is known as shy and reserved, Lapo's flamboyant style has made him a celebrity in Italy, where he owns a stable of luxury sports cars and is dedicated to his family's soccer club, Juventus.
In November, Elkann told New York City police he had been held against his will at a Manhattan apartment for more than a day. A law enforcement source said Elkann met a 29-year-old man through an escort website and that they used drugs together before the kidnapping report.
Elkann was released after his arrest and had been due in court on Wednesday until the charges were dropped. He now wants to leave the episode behind him, his lawyer said.
"I want the wind at his back," Zelin said. "Look at him as the creative, brilliant and philanthropic person that he is."
Elkann no longer holds any positions at Fiat, but is on the board of directors at luxury carmaker Ferrari, one of the companies controlled by his family.
In 2007 he founded sunglasses company Italia Independent, which debuted on the Milan stock market in 2013.
The Agnelli family's investment holding company Exor also owns reinsurer PartnerRe and has holdings in truck and tractor maker CNH Industrial.