If you are rich it can buy you the justice you want it seems. It can in the US. A quite high profile hit-and-run case involving a cyclist has been making waves on the other side of the Atlantic over the past week after a felony charge was dropped due to the question of whether it would affect the accused’s ability to work in the future.
The case involves a financier, a one Martin Joel Erzinger, a private wealth management director for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver. Mr Erzinger manages more than $1bn in assets for Morgan Stanley for high net worth individuals, their families and foundations.
On July 3rd this year, Mr Erzinger hit cyclist Dr Steven Milo with his Mercedes car. Milo suffered multiple injuries including bleeding from the brain and a serious injury to his spinal cord. Despite hitting Dr Milo, Mr Erzinger continued driving on, eventually stopping to call for assistance, for his damaged car.
A felony charge of serious bodily injury relating to the incident has however been dropped by the prosecutor to the case and dropped to a misdemeanour charge.
Denver District Attorney Mark Hurlbert dropped the felony charge against Mr Erzinger because he believed it would seriously hurt his ability to earn a living in his line of work and it was more important for the victim to receive compensation for his injuries rather than for Mr Erzinger to receive a criminal conviction.
“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us,” Mr Hurlbert told local newspaper the Vail Daily. “Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”
Mr Hurlbert said Erzinger had shown willingness 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,” Mr Hurlbert said. “When you’re talking about restitution, you don’t want to take away his ability to pay.”
Unsurprisingly the case has sparked outrage in the US and there have been demands for the felony charge to be reinstated against Mr Erzinger. A petition has been set up to try and persuade Denver authorities to see justice.
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