Did Cops Target Hit-And-Run Driver Because He Was A Rich Private Wealth Manager?
Senior Editor, CNBC.com
No doubt this is going to become one of those legendary stories of the wealthy being treated differently by the judicial system. And by differently, I mean more leniently.
The Daily Mail lays out the basic facts:
"A financial manager for wealthy clients will not face charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardise his job, it has been revealed.
Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, was set to face felony charges for running over a doctor who he hit from behind in his 2010 Mercedes Benz, and then speeding off.
But now he will simply face two misdemeanour traffic charges from the July 3 incident in Eagle, Colorado.
His victim, Dr Steven Milo, 34, is meanwhile facing 'a lifetime of pain' from his injuries.
But prosecutors claim the decision is theirs to make.
'Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it,' said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
He said Erzinger, a private wealth manager who manages more than $1billion in assets at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver, 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,' he said.
'When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay.' "
The clear implication is that Erzinger is getting off easy because of his wealth. I think this is probably 100% backwards.
I suspect that if Erzinger hadn't been a wealthy guy driving a brand new Mercedes Benz he would never have been arrested for the hit and run.
In 2007, I was struck by a white mini-van while crossing the street in lower Manhattan. The van sped off after throwing me across the street. My leg was shattered. It's now held together with a rod made of a special metal alloy. Walking took months of physical therapy. I can still feel the pain on some days.
Thanks to eye-witnesses we found the owners of the vehicle. Her insurance paid for the extensive surgery required, as well as the extensive medical bills. She had no real assets, so I never pursued her in civil court. The police, after the initial interview at the scene of the crime, never followed up. It was just a hit-and-run, after all.
Maybe things are different in Eagle, Colorado. Maybe the cops are super-vigilant about pursuing hit-and-run drivers. Or maybe Erzinger was arrested because he was driving a fancy new car.
(Hat tip: DealBreaker)
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