The Case of Martin Joel Erzinger: Should Your Job Make a Difference in How You're Prosecuted?

November 8 2010, 11:00 AM

Some blogs are blazing with anger toward Martin Joel Erzinger, a wealthy financial manager who allegedly ran into a cyclist in Eagle this summer with his 2010 Mercedes Benz and then sped away. Though Erzinger initially faced a felony charge for fleeing the scene after hitting Dr. Steven Milo, of New York, this summer—causing spinal cord injuries, bleeding from Milo's brain, damage to his knee, and other injuries that have required multiple surgeries—the charges have been downgraded to misdemeanor traffic violations. That's because Erzinger, who owns a home in Arrowhead, is a director in high-end, private wealth management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver.

As Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert tells the Vail Daily, "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." Should Erzinger be convicted of a felony, he would have to publicly disclose that fact to regulators, threatening his employability. The situation has outraged Milo, who claims, "Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled, and left me for dead on the highway. Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors" in the prosecution of the case.

VeloNation notes that the cycling community at-large is upset that the prosecutor has dropped the felony charge. And the Treehugger blog opines that "the rich are different from you and me; they get to hit and run, almost killing a cyclist, but get off without serious charges because it is hard to be a money manager for Smith Barney if you have a record."