Attorney: Rays' Matt Bush's $1.015 million bond excessive
Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher Matt Bush was treated “dramatically different” than other people in similar DUI hit-and-run cases, with his $1.015 million bond excessive and unfair, his attorney Russell Kirshy said.
Kirshy has filed a motion for a bond reduction, with a hearing set for Monday, April 23, in Punta Gorda.
Bush is in Charlotte County Jail facing seven charges after getting arrested Mar 22 when police said he hit the motorcycle of 72-year-old Tony Tufano and fled the scene. Bush, driving teammate Brandon Guyer’s Dodge Durango, had a suspended license, with police saying he had a blood alcohol level of .180, more than double the legal limit.
In his motion, Kirshy had researched all similar DUI with serious bodily injury cases the past five years in Charlotte County, and wrote the highest bond set in those cases was $65,000. In that time period, even those cases involving DUI manslaughter, suspended license, and leaving the scene of a crash involving death, the highest bond set was $96,000, Kirshy wrote.
Tufano suffered serious injuries and was in the intensive care unit of Lee Memorial Hospital for a couple weeks, but was released last week and is home.
Tufano's family attorney, Paul Sullivan, said the cases Kirshy included in his motion aren't "comparing apples to apples," considering Bush's previous record and DUI arrests, his limited ties to the community and the fact he got in three hit-and-run accidents Mar. 22. Sullivan said the motion is also inaccurate that Bush hasn't been convicted of failure to appear (he was on Jan. 30 2007 in Arizona on an excessive speeding charge).
"The idea that we should take pity on Mr. Bush and say he's not a danger to the community would be laughable if it weren't so outrageous and if the situation we're all looking at wasn't so terrible," Sullivan said. "It's bad enough he was driving around Charlotte County, running into people and leaving them for dead. There's zero assurance that Mr. Bush won't wont drink and drive and cause mahem wherever he goes."
Despite Bush getting a $3.15 million signing bonus as the 2004 top overall pick, Kirshy writes the 26-year-old is living “payday to payday,” with very little savings and no other liquid assets he can convert to cash. The Rays have since put Bush on the restricted list, and Kirshy writes it’s unlikely he’ll have any income this year. Kirshy writes Bush would participate in less restrictive alternatives from the court, whether that’s ankle monitoring, a “no alcohol provision” or attending an in-patient alcohol rehabilitation program. Sullivan points out Bush has already tried the rehab route and questioned whether he'd appear in court if released, considering the charges he's facing.
"If he can't be trusted to show up for a misdemeanor speeding charge, I don't know why you'd trust him to show up in a case of running over an old man and faces 15 years in prison," Sullivan said.
Bush got in three hit-and-run accidents Mar 22, including hitting a light pole in Sarasota, but the Tufano crash was the most serious. The Tufano family has filed civil lawsuits against Bush and Guyer, seeking $5 million from each. Tufano’s family attorney, Richard Hirsch, said while Tufano is home, he has a “long, long” road to recovery, with “hundreds of thousands” expected in medical bills. Shannon Moore, Tufano’s daughter in law, said some family members will attend Monday’s bond reduction hearing.
“We’re not trying to minimize what (Bush is) accused of doing and not trying to minimize the pain of the family of Mr. Tufano,” Kirshy said. “But the bottom line is truly one thing that protects everyone in the criminal justice system is while the victim is permitted to have a voice and express opinion regarding critical issues, their opinion doesn’t trump everything else.”
-- JOE SMITH