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EAGLE, Colorado — A financial manager for wealthy clients will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job, prosecutors said Thursday.

Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, faces two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a July 3 incident when he allegedly hit bicyclist Dr. Steven Milo from behind then sped away, according to court documents.

Milo and his attorney, Harold Haddon, are livid about the prosecution's decision to drop the felony charge. They filed their objection Wednesday afternoon, the day after prosecutors notified Haddon's office by fax of their decision.

Haddon and Milo say this is a victim's rights case, that Erzinger's alleged actions constituted a felony, and that one day is not enough notice.

“The proposed disposition is not appropriate given the shocking nature of of the defendant's conduct and the debilitating injuries which Dr. Milo has suffered,” Haddon wrote.

As for the one-day notice, Haddon wrote, “One business day is not sufficient notice to allow him to meaningfully participate in this criminal action.”

Milo, 34, is a physician living in New York City with his wife and two children, where he is still recovering from his injuries, court records show.

Milo suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula, according to court documents. Over the past six weeks he has suffered “disabling” spinal headaches and faces multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the accident.

“He will have lifetime pain,” Haddon wrote. “His ability to deal with the physical challenges of his profession — liver transplant surgery — has been seriously jeopardized.” 

Money manager

Erzinger, an Arrowhead homeowner, is a director in private wealth management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver. His biography on Worth.com states that Erzinger is “dedicated to ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations.”

Erzinger manages more than $1 billion in assets. He would have to publicly disclose any felony charge within 30 days, according to North American Securities Dealers regulations.

Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case “has always been about responsibility, not 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.”

“We have talked with Mr. Haddon and we had their objections, but ultimately it's our call,” Hurlbert said.

Dropping the felony charge is not a revelation, Hurlbert said.

“We had been talking with them about this misdemeanor disposition for a while now,” Hurlbert said. “The misdemeanor charges really are what he did.”

Haddon and Hurlbert have squared off before. Haddon was one of Kobe Bryant's defense attorneys, with lead attorney Pamela Mackey, when Bryant faced sexual assault charges in Eagle County. Hurlbert was the lead prosecutor in that case. 

Bicyclist hit from behind

Milo was bicycling eastbound on Highway 6 just east of Miller Ranch Road, when Erzinger allegedly hit him with the black 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan he was driving. Erzinger fled the scene and was arrested later, police say.

Erzinger allegedly veered onto the side of the road and hit Milo from behind. Milo was thrown to the pavement, while Erzinger struck a culvert and kept driving, according to court documents.

Erzinger drove all the way through Avon, the town's roundabouts, under I-70 and stopped in the Pizza Hut parking lot where he called the Mercedes auto assistance service to report damage to his vehicle, and asked that his car be towed, records show. He did not ask for law enforcement assistance, according to court records.

Erzinger told police he was unaware he had hit Milo, court documents say.

When Avon police arrived he was putting a broken side mirror and a bumper in his trunk, court record say.

Meanwhile another motorist, Steven Lay of Eagle, stopped to help Milo and called 911.

Court records say prosecutors expressed skepticism to Milo at a suggestion by Erzinger's defense attorneys that Erzinger might have unknowingly suffered from sleep apnea, and that might have made him caused him to fall asleep at the wheel and hit Milo.

The original complaint included a felony count against Erzinger for causing serious bodily injury. Deputy DA Mark Brostrom is prosecuting the case and Milo says in court documents that Brostrom called Erzinger's July 3 actions “egregious.” Prosecutors pleaded the case down to a misdemeanor later in the summer, then in August told Milo and his attorneys that Erzinger would face a felony charge, Haddon wrote.

But on Sept. 7, Brostrom told County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan that the case would be pleaded as a misdemeanor. That's the first time Milo or his attorneys had heard of it, Haddon wrote, and they protested “in the strongest possible terms,” Haddon wrote. 

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ad said:
I can see how restitution can be a factor in some hit and run cases, especially if the victim will need life-long and expensive medical treatment. If the accused can't pay for a victim's life long medical bills due to a felony conviction, the State could end up having to foot the bill.

There are a few problems I see with the DA's explanation in this specific case, though: (1) you have a victim who is clearly stating the accused's ability to pay immediate restitution (through a criminal judgment at least) is NOT a concern to him, and he (the victim) likely has the means to pay for his own treatment without having to burden the State or rely on immediate restitution resulting from the criminal case; (2) the accused is likely wealthy enough that his ability to pay proper restitution is not necessarily tied to whether he is able to continue in his chosen profession with a felony conviction; and (3) the victim is not a resident of the State of Colorado and has apparently returned to his home state for treatment and rehabilitation, so the DA cannot claim he is protecting the State of Colorado and its taxpayers from having to possibly pay the victim's lifetime medical bills stemming from the accident if the accused isn't ultimately able to pay proper restitution in this case.

All in all, this case smells a little fishy for sure. And it is class-based justice, like it or not. If the hit and run driver had been unemployed or unlikely to be able to pay proper restitution through his or her given profession (say a migrant worker or illegal alien), how do you think the DA would've responded? There is no way a public defender would have been able to work out the same deal with the DA for an indigent defendant.

Good points, thanks for the thoughtful response.
The real question is, will the guy actually have to pay enough money so that he (a) provides properly for the long-term care of the victim and (b) actually feels some kind of monetary pain? Or will he spend the rest of his days like O.J., hunting for the real killers on the golf course?

I get the feeling that he's laughing all the way to the bank, and that he'll get on just fine with his life, saddled only with basically a monthly alimony payment which prevents him from buying a third Mercedes.

Why wouldn't he be able to resume his high-powered money juggling career after, say, a nice yearlong vacation in prison?
Some companies wont hire people that have felony convictions, and some financial positions are regulated by the state and require a license, and won't allow convicted felons to hold those license.

Reading around other sites I found, it seems this DA has a history of this stuff.

http://abusivediscretion.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/da-mark-hurlbert-...



Dan Korn said:
The real question is, will the guy actually have to pay enough money so that he (a) provides properly for the long-term care of the victim and (b) actually feels some kind of monetary pain? Or will he spend the rest of his days like O.J., hunting for the real killers on the golf course?

I get the feeling that he's laughing all the way to the bank, and that he'll get on just fine with his life, saddled only with basically a monthly alimony payment which prevents him from buying a third Mercedes.

Why wouldn't he be able to resume his high-powered money juggling career after, say, a nice yearlong vacation in prison?
I think Dan understood that, i.e. you misunderstood his post.


Rick norris said:
Some companies wont hire people that have felony convictions, and some financial positions are regulated by the state and require a license, and won't allow convicted felons to hold those license.

Reading around other sites I found, it seems this DA has a history of this stuff.

http://abusivediscretion.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/da-mark-hurlbert-...



Dan Korn said:
The real question is, will the guy actually have to pay enough money so that he (a) provides properly for the long-term care of the victim and (b) actually feels some kind of monetary pain? Or will he spend the rest of his days like O.J., hunting for the real killers on the golf course?

I get the feeling that he's laughing all the way to the bank, and that he'll get on just fine with his life, saddled only with basically a monthly alimony payment which prevents him from buying a third Mercedes.

Why wouldn't he be able to resume his high-powered money juggling career after, say, a nice yearlong vacation in prison?
Wait, isn't the insurance company of the driver going to foot the bill here? Why is everyone making it seem like the driver is going to have to pay for it himself?
Insurance typically has caps (don't know what it is for drivers but 300k seems to be a common cap for homeowner's insurance.)
You'd be talking millions here, I think.



Jason W said:
Wait, isn't the insurance company of the driver going to foot the bill here? Why is everyone making it seem like the driver is going to have to pay for it himself?
I would think that even though the driver isn't charged with a felony in criminal court, he could be charged with some kind of wrongful conduct resulting in bodily injury in civil court. I suspect that Dr. Milo might have the means to pursue such a civil action. If Colorado personal injury attorneys are anything like the personal injury attorneys in Wisconsin or Illinois, this could result in a multi-million dollar settlement. Dr. Milo just needs a good litigator.
The victim has already lawyered-up in a pretty spectacular fashion.

From the article: "Haddon [the victim's attorney] and Hurlbert have squared off before. Haddon was one of Kobe Bryant's defense attorneys, with lead attorney Pamela Mackey, when Bryant faced sexual assault charges in Eagle County. Hurlbert was the lead prosecutor in that case."

Given the guns the victim brought to bear early on this guy, I'm pretty sure the driver would have been absolutley screwed in this case (both in criminal and civil trials) if he hadn't been a billion dollar fund manager for one of the most influential brokerage firms in the world. I'm sure he will still be financially screwed to a degree in the inevitable civil trial. That said, I think others are right in noting that the hit-and-run driver probably has enough money that it's not really going to impact his life all that much in the end, which is the real shame of it all given what he did.




Barry Niel Stuart said:
I would think that even though the driver isn't charged with a felony in criminal court, he could be charged with some kind of wrongful conduct resulting in bodily injury in civil court. I suspect that Dr. Milo might have the means to pursue such a civil action. If Colorado personal injury attorneys are anything like the personal injury attorneys in Wisconsin or Illinois, this could result in a multi-million dollar settlement. Dr. Milo just needs a good litigator.
I was going to post this myself before I saw this thread. This story is disgusting.
Utterly sad in so many ways.

Thanks for posting Minh. I'm passing this story along.

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