BikePortland.org

Another black eye for bikes in Colorado – Updated

A petition on Change.org has over
2,700 signatures.

It’s been a rough year for Colorado. First there was the ban on bicycling in Black Hawk, then a candidate for Governor, Dan Maes, likened Colorado’s bike-sharing program to a “U.N. plot” (thankfully, comments like that earned Maes a paltry 10% of the vote). And now comes this…

According to the Vail Daily, “A financial manager for wealthy clients will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job.”

“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into it… Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”
— DA Mark Hurlbert speaking to the Vail Daily newspaper

The financial manager is Martin Joel Erzinger, 52. In his position at Morgan Stanley he oversees over $1 billion in assets for his clients. He’d be forced by law to disclose a felony, which would of course not be good for business. But what about the business of justice?

Erzinger hit 34 year old Steven Milo as he rode his bike along a highway shoulder. Milo suffered very serious injuries to his brain and spinal cord and was left for dead in a ditch while Erzinger drove away and only stopped several miles down the road to call roadside assistance for his banged up Mercedes.

DA Mark Hurlbert, who pleaded the case down to two misdemeanor traffic charges says one of the reasons for doing so is to make sure Erzinger retains his ability to pay restitution in the case. Here’s Hurlbert in the Vail Daily:

“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into it… Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”

Hit-and-run cases are often not as cut-and-dry as they seem, and as we experienced here in Portland just a few months ago, add in a wealthy suspect and things get even more complicated.

Legal chess moves aside, the community has responded strongly to this case. Over 2,700 5,400 people have already signed a petition on Change.org urging DA Hurlbert to not drop the felony charges against Erzinger. Another grassroots effort is directed at a boycott of the Vail stage of the upcoming Quizno’s Pro Challenge.

Even with an appreciation of the legal complexities, what Erzinger is accused of absolutely warrants a felony charge and it’s shocking that his profession and net worth has even entered into the equation. As it is, the story has already gone viral, so the cat is out of the bag. Now, instead of dealing with the felony charge privately with his clients, Erzinger will become a national villain. I wonder how all this attention is impacting his business?

UPDATE: Speaking of attention… Look what just showed up as the Top Story on Huffington Post:

Wow. So much for not jeopardizing Erzinger’s business.

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