Bringing Up the Rear: Martin Joel Erzinger, Et Al by Mandelman

by 25 Jan 2011
  Some months this column is harder to write than others… this month it practically wrote itself.    There’s no reason you should know the name, Martin Joel Erzinger.  He’s a 52 year-old private wealth manager, who manages more than $1 billion for uber-rich clients of Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney in Denver, Colorado.   Well, apparently on July 3rd this past year, Martin Joel Erzinger was speeding along in his black 2010 Mercedes… rich guys are always understandably in a hurry… when he allegedly slammed into one Dr. Steven Milo from behind.  The thing is, Dr. Milo was riding a bicycle on Highway 6, near Eagle, Colorado at the time, so “struck from behind,” is really more like “ran over from behind”.   According to court documents, Dr. Milo suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula.  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.”  His attorney, Harold Haddon told the court that Dr. Milo will have a lifetime of pain and that: “His ability to deal with the physical challenges of his profession - liver transplant surgery - has been seriously jeopardized.”   So, Dr. Milo is a liver transplant surgeon who lives in New York City with his wife and two children.  Clearly, this was a tragic accident… just one of those things that everyone wishes never happened.   Well, sort of… there’s a little more to it, actually.   You see… the thing is that Martin Joel Erzinger, according to police, fled the scene and had to be arrested later.  Reports say that he drove until finding a Pizza Hut parking lot where he stopped and called Mercedes Roadside Assistance to report the damage to his vehicle.   And, although Martin Joel Erzinger was all set to face felony hit-and-run charges, but as it turns out… he’ll only be charged with two misdemeanor traffic charges from the July 3rd incident.  District Attorney Mark Hurlbert explained that the decision not to prosecute Martin Joel Erzinger was made because:   “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.”   Excuse me, DA Hurlbert?  You’re not going to prosecute Martin Joel Erzinger for running down someone riding a bicycle and then fleeing the scene because it wouldn’t look good on the guy’s resume?  Seriously, Mr. Hurlbert?  Where did you get your law degree, sir… and more importantly, where did you leave your ethics and responsibility to our society?   Prosecutors say the decision is theirs, and thank you for stating the obvious.  But prosecutors that fail in their duty should also be removed from their office, and replaced by those that will protect our society and uphold our laws regardless of how much money the alleged offender earns or manages.    And what about Dr. Milo’s career as a liver transplant surgeon?  What is he, chopped liver?  (I sincerely apologize for that, I tried but couldn’t help it.)   The D.A. in this case is trying to say that he didn’t want to take away Martin Joel Erzinger’s ability to repay the victim by impeding on his ability to make the money he needed to compensate the victim as a result of a felony conviction.  Well… horsepucky.   A former 26 year Assistant U.S. Attorney with whom I consulted as I was writing this article, said:    “I would think that in this case, the potential reduction in prospective earnings has nothing to do with his ability to compensate the victim, as we can assume that Martin Joel Erzinger is already quite well off.”    And, according to what Dr. Milo wrote to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, he didn’t want the D.A. to do him any favors, stating:   “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 your prosecution of this case.”   My friend, the ex-U.S. Attorney went on to say:   “The law is designed both to punish and deter illegal conduct.  Martin Joel Erzinger obviously deserves, and in fact needs to be severely punished, as his behavior is so offensive as to defy all reason.  He not only left Dr. Milo on the road to die, but then he thought to call in damage to his vehicle before considering the damage to a fellow human being.  It’s outrageous.”    And what is the message sent to private wealth managers, hedge funders, and other members of the banking class in this country?  If you happen to almost kill someone, there’s no reason to not to simply leave the scene and head for Pizza Hut, perhaps for a slice and a cola?  You can always just have your girl write a check later to straighten things out?   Oh, really?  Well, let me just introduce what sort of behavior that will lead to on the part of victims of such egregious crimes.  If you happen to be almost killed by one of these rich scumbags, don’t bother calling the cops.  Just recover, load up a couple of clips of hollow points for your 9-millimeter, find out where the guy parks his car and blow the sonofabitch’s head off your damn self.  It’ll be considered a public service, as far as I’m concerned.    You see, this article isn’t really about District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, Martin Joel Erzinger, or even Dr. Milo.  This story is about an America that has so lost its way that, although the facts of this story were reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Cycling News, and a host of others online, including Naked Capitalism, by the way… you won’t find it published in the headlines of any major media outlet.  Why?  I fear that I don’t even want to know the answer to that question. Martin Joel Erzinger told police that he didn’t know he had hit Dr. Milo. So, he didn’t know he had hit a cyclist.  Was Martin Joel Erzinger that drunk when he struck Dr. Milo and his bicycle that he didn’t even know?  Is that why he fled the scene?  Considering the decision made by the D.A. not to prosecute Martin Joel Erzinger, is it really so hard to believe that the D.A. wouldn’t cover up such a detail?   We’re about to enter yet another season of Wall Street bonuses, and there will be hundreds of billions showered upon those who caused the crisis that has left hundreds of millions struggling, and many of them likely for the remainder of their lives.  What shall we as a nation do about that… let them eat cake?   The path we’re on only has two possible endings, radical revolt or radical reform.  I pray we wake up and choose reform before it is too late.   Martin Andelman is a staff writer for The Niche Report. He also writes an almost daily column on ML-Implode called Mandelman Matters.  He also publishes a Monthly Museletter and you can follow “Mandelman” on Twitter.  Send your responses to Martin@TheNicheReport.com

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