Justice derailed?: Wealthy money manager gets wrist slapped after almost killing cyclist
Posted Nov 08 2010 9:00am
(File photo: DA Mark Hurlbert in 2004 after filing sexual assault charges against Kobe Bryant)
The facts of this unbelievable story seem to speak for themselves.
According to published reports a hit and run driver faces only minor misdemeanor charges instead of more serious felony charges after he allegedly struck a cyclist from behind with his 2010 Mercedes, and left the scene of the accident without so much as calling an ambulance.
But that's not the unbelievable part. What's really amazing is that in part the prosecutor in the case is refusing to file felony charges because it could jeopardize the money managers job...and that's according to the prosecutors office.
It all started on July 3rd when 34-year-old New York physician Steven Milo went for a bike ride in Vail, Colorado.
Allegedly 52-year-old Denver based money manager Martin Joel Erzinger, who owns a home in Vail and manages more than $1 billion in assets for wealthy clients for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, struck Milo from behind with his Mercedes.
"Erzinger allegedly veered onto the side of the road and hit Milo from behind. Milo was thrown to the pavement, while Erzinger struck a culvert and kept driving, according to court documents.
Erzinger drove all the way through Avon, the town's roundabouts, under I-70 and stopped in the Pizza Hut parking lot where he called the Mercedes auto assistance service to report damage to his vehicle, and asked that his car be towed, records show. He did not ask for law enforcement assistance, according to court records.
Erzinger told police he was unaware he had hit Milo, court documents say.
When Avon police arrived he was putting a broken side mirror and a bumper in his trunk, court records say."
The Vail paper goes on to report that "Milo suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula, according to court documents. Over the past six weeks he has suffered “disabling” spinal headaches and faces multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the accident."
But here's where perhaps the story becomes a matter of great interest for all cyclist.
On Thursday of last week local district Attorney Mark Hurlbert decided to drop any felony charges against Erzinger saying, "Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it.”
"When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay," he added.
As you may guess the district Attorney decision is not sitting well with many who have followed and read the story.
John English comments, "Wouldn't a felony conviction have some pretty serious job implications for ANYONE? I don't understand why this guy is getting special treatment."
And Wes Mantooth comments, "District Attorney Mark Hurlbert should be disbarred. His actions in this case are a disgrace. Absolutely ridiculous."
BTW: You may recall DA Mark Hurlbert from another much more famous case in Colorado. Hurlbert was the Eagle County, Colorado prosecutor who charged Kobe Bryant with sexual assault back in 2004.
What do you think?
Is this a case of money and power derailing justice?
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
* Thanks to pro triathlete Jordan Rapp for championing this story. As you may recall from THIS story, Rapp has his own bitter and almost deadly experience with a hit and run driver.