EAGLE, Colorado — A financial manager for wealthy clients will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job, prosecutors said Thursday.
Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, faces two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a July 3 incident when he allegedly hit bicyclist Dr. Steven Milo from behind then sped away, according to court documents.
Milo and his attorney, Harold Haddon, are livid about the prosecution's decision to drop the felony charge. They filed their objection Wednesday afternoon, the day after prosecutors notified Haddon's office by fax of their decision.
Haddon and Milo say this is a victim's rights case, that Erzinger's alleged actions constituted a felony, and that one day is not enough notice.
“The proposed disposition is not appropriate given the shocking nature of of the defendant's conduct and the debilitating injuries which Dr. Milo has suffered,” Haddon wrote.
As for the one-day notice, Haddon wrote, “One business day is not sufficient notice to allow him to meaningfully participate in this criminal action.”
Milo, 34, is a physician living in New York City with his wife and two children, where he is still recovering from his injuries, court records show.
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.
“He will have lifetime pain,” Haddon wrote. “His ability to deal with the physical challenges of his profession — liver transplant surgery — has been seriously jeopardized.”
Erzinger, an Arrowhead homeowner, is a director in private wealth management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver. His biography on Worth.com states that Erzinger is “dedicated to ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations.”
Erzinger manages more than $1 billion in assets. He would have to publicly disclose any felony charge within 30 days, according to North American Securities Dealers regulations.
Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case “has always been about responsibility, not money.”
“Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway,” Milo wrote. “Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case.”
Hurlbert said Thursday that, in part, this case is about the money.
“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us,” Hurlbert said. “Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”
Hurlbert said Erzinger is willing to take responsibility and pay restitution.
“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it,” Hurlbert said. “When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay.”
“We have talked with Mr. Haddon and we had their objections, but ultimately it's our call,” Hurlbert said.
Dropping the felony charge is not a revelation, Hurlbert said.
“We had been talking with them about this misdemeanor disposition for a while now,” Hurlbert said. “The misdemeanor charges really are what he did.”
Haddon and Hurlbert have squared off before. Haddon was one of Kobe Bryant's defense attorneys, with lead attorney Pamela Mackey, when Bryant faced sexual assault charges in Eagle County. Hurlbert was the lead prosecutor in that case.
Bicyclist hit from behind
Milo was bicycling eastbound on Highway 6 just east of Miller Ranch Road, when Erzinger allegedly hit him with the black 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan he was driving. Erzinger fled the scene and was arrested later, police say.
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 record say.
Meanwhile another motorist, Steven Lay of Eagle, stopped to help Milo and called 911.
Court records say prosecutors expressed skepticism to Milo at a suggestion by Erzinger's defense attorneys that Erzinger might have unknowingly suffered from sleep apnea, and that might have made him caused him to fall asleep at the wheel and hit Milo.
The original complaint included a felony count against Erzinger for causing serious bodily injury. Deputy DA Mark Brostrom is prosecuting the case and Milo says in court documents that Brostrom called Erzinger's July 3 actions “egregious.” Prosecutors pleaded the case down to a misdemeanor later in the summer, then in August told Milo and his attorneys that Erzinger would face a felony charge, Haddon wrote.
But on Sept. 7, Brostrom told County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan that the case would be pleaded as a misdemeanor. That's the first time Milo or his attorneys had heard of it, Haddon wrote, and they protested “in the strongest possible terms,” Haddon wrote.
Fuck our justice system.
No! I'm Spamacus!
17th June 2003
I've always wanted to know what goes on in the driver's head when they decide to leave the scene. Unless they plan on ditching the vehicle in a tar pit, it's going to be difficult to explain away the damage when it's time to get it repaired.
Civil trial should be interesting.
I'm surprised he didn't countersue to make Milo pay for damages to his Mercedes.
Seriously, though, whose job wouldn't it jeopardize? That's the penalty aspect of the justice system. If he murdered his spouse, would he be let off because being convicted of murder would also 'penalize his job'?
I believe if it was a felony, it should have remained a felony unless it was negotiated between the parties, however the doctor should be paid damages for his injuries, and the financial manager should be charged for negligence as well. A car is replaceable, a human body is not (yet).
if his job is important enough to make him immune to prosecution to grievous bodily harm (let's face it, it is), won't he have someone to stand in for him? it's not like there's a shortage of unemployed financial businessmen...
MoreGun89;5421392I believe if it was a felony, it should have remained a felony unless it was negotiated between the parties, however the doctor should be paid damages for his injuries, and the financial manager should be charged for negligence as well. A car is replaceable, a human body is not (yet).
There's still the unavoidable civil trial.
Mister Angry Rules Guy
1st February 2010
[COLOR=orange]That just does not seem right, but at least they know who the driver was. At the beginning of this year, I witnessed a hit and run in which the driver hit a child walking down the sidewalk. I (THANKFULLY) was able to save the little girl’s life. However, as for the driver, they still do not know who it was, not even after all these months.[/COLOR]
I pretend to do stuff.
16th January 2004
"I pledge [blah blah], with liberty and justice* for all." * Definition of 'justice' depends on disposable income.
A delightful perversion of the justice system. He's rich, he has a lot of rich clients (and friends, probably) - so he gets a slap on the wrist and a fine. Lovely.
Upon further digging it appears this DA has a history of retarded decisions: He charged two women who switched numbers in a bike race (with no cash prize) with felony criminal impersonation He gave a deferred sentence to a guy accused of murdering and raping his girlfriend. He ruled that beating up a black woman in a bar and ripping half her hair out while calling her a c*** and a n***** was a misdemeanor and gave the guy 60 days in jail He sentenced a drunk snowboarder who ran over an 8 year old girl in a hit and run with community service and a $300 fine. He charged that father of the girl with 3rd degree assault for punching the jackass in the face. He delayed the trial for a month of a police officer charged with wrongfully tasering students at a career fair
Pb2Au;5421570Upon further digging it appears this DA has a history of retarded decisions: He charged two women who switched numbers in a bike race (with no cash prize) with felony criminal impersonation He gave a deferred sentence to a guy accused of murdering and raping his girlfriend. He ruled that beating up a black woman in a bar and ripping half her hair out while calling her a c*** and a n***** was a misdemeanor and gave the guy 60 days in jail He sentenced a drunk snowboarder who ran over an 8 year old girl in a hit and run with community service and a $300 fine. He charged that father of the girl with 3rd degree assault for punching the jackass in the face. He delayed the trial for a month of a police officer charged with wrongfully tasering students at a career fair
^^My question, why does this guy still have a job? :uhm: