Friday, December 17, 2010

No jail time for Martin Erzinger

As shown in today's Friday's Foaming Rant. W/permission

  In his “Lives,” writing of the Athenian statesman Solon, Plutarch said the philosopher Anacharsis “laughed at him for imagining the dishonesty and covetousness of his countrymen could be restrained by written laws, which were like spiders’ webs, and would catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but easily be broken by the mighty and rich.”

--Patrick O'Grady, in this week's Friday's Foaming Rant.

Patrick O'Grady goes on to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, in prose written a couple thousand years later than Plutarch but strangely reminiscent of the same problem. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” 

 Some things indeed never change. There is no better example of how money can buy justice in the modern day United States than is seen in this nauseating case from Vail (Eagle County), Colorado.

 "Vail, Colo. (VN) — Martin Erzinger (a wealth manager who juggles billions for Smith Barney) was sentenced to a year’s probation and a suspended jail term on Thursday after a Colorado judge accepted a controversial plea bargain in the case of a cyclist who was the victim of a hit-and-run last July."

In a Vail newspaper, and in VeloNews the state's prosecuting attorney, Mark Hurlbert, was quoted as saying "...felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into..." presumably, entered into his decision to offer a plea bargain. As Charles Pelkey wondered, WTF???. So if you are rich in Vail, the D.A. sure wouldn't want your resume to suffer for your indiscretions. After all, Vail exists on the whims of the rich and famous. One cannot interfere with marketing. Other people will have to clean up the mess they make.

The prosecutor in this case, according to Velonews and the Denver Post, is not averse to throwing the book at really serious criminals. Mark Hurlbert, a stellar example of what can go seriously wrong with the criminal justice system, recently charged two bike racers with felonies for exchanging race numbers before a race. But they didn't have deep pockets.  Hitting someone pretty damn hard with your car and leaving the scene (see pictures of cyclist Milo here if you have a strong stomach) and being caught calling Mercedes-Benz to get the crash damage on your 2010 luxury Benz fixed a few miles down the road? Feh...

Bottom line? We can boycott Vail. Put a dent in the community's tolerance for electing the Mark Hurlberts of the world. And, quite obviously, remember that in your own community, the only thing standing between you and a Mark Hurlbert in a courtroom is you standing at the polls voting for a better candidate.

Charles Pelkey's epilogue to this fiasco is here.

1 comment:

bikeolounger said...

I'd be sort-of okay with "no jail time" if instead he was sentenced to ride a bike 2000 miles a year, as verified by daily logging of miles with folks doing random checks by watching him ride. All of his riding should be on roads that most cyclists avoid as having horrendous traffic, to give him more understanding of what his senseless driving does to real people.