If You Ever Want to Maim Someone With Your Car, Get a Job at Morgan Stanley

In most of the United States, the general rule about harming people with automobiles goes like this: Stay at the scene, and if you’re sober, you probably won’t be looking at anything more substantial than a moving violation. Recent laws passed in Oregon, New York, and Delaware promise to hold motorists to a higher standard of care (if law enforcement employs the new tools), but one part of the country seems to be taking a step backward when it comes to condoning reckless driving.

Martin Erzinger, Morgan Stanley wealth manager
Martin Erzinger, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney wealth manager. Photo: ##http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/11/rich-vail-fund-manager-gets-off.php##Treehugger##

Over in Vail, Colorado, the new rule seems to be that you don’t even have to stay at the scene, if you’re sufficiently rich and well-connected. Manage a billion dollar portfolio, and you can do whatever the hell you want with your car and get away with no felony charges.

Vail Daily reported last week that Martin Erzinger, a wealth manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and local resident, will not face felony charges stemming from a July 3 collision in which he reportedly ran down New York City physician Steven Milo, causing severe spinal injuries, and drove away. Over Milo’s objections, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert won’t pursue anything stronger than a misdemeanor charge for the hit-and-run. The decision has little to do with justice or deterrence and much to do with 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.”

Blogger Felix Salmon says the decision amounts to Erzinger buying his way out of a felony charge. Over at Cyclelicious, Richard Masoner is calling for a Vail tourism boycott and points to other reactions around the web, including this petition to Hurlbert at Change.org.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Yes, You Need a License to Ride a Bike in Los Angeles

|
Recently, cyclists are finding themselves being ticketed for not having a license on their bicycle.  This has lead to outrage in the community from some, the bicycle licensing laws are meant to help recover stolen bikes not harass the people on them, and confusion from others.  It seems a lot of people don’t even know […]

Lessons from Chicago: What Could Happen to Parking in L.A.

|
Thus far, the discussion on how to, and whether to move forward with a plan to privatize the city’s metered street parking has focused on what impact a similar plan has had in Chicago.  The final deal between the Windy City and Morgan Stanley netted Chicago $1.16 billion up front, for turning over parking revenue, […]

A Tale of Two Crashes…

|
I think it was the tree. Photo: Fourbyfourblazer/Flickr Last Sunday, a cyclist was forced off his bike when trying to avoid colliding with a car that raced out of a parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. The cyclist went over his handlebars, while the vehicle sped off.  Another cyclist, who did not know the victim, raced […]