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Judge sets bond for Rays' Matt Bush at more than $1 million

PUNTA GORDA — Saying Rays minor-league pitcher Matt Bush is a "danger to the community" and a "flight risk," Charlotte County circuit Judge Nicholas Thompson set Bush's bond at $1.015 million Saturday morning for the seven charges he faces for his involvement in a DUI hit-and-run accident.

Bush's arraignment is scheduled for May 21.

Bush's attorney, Russell Kirshy, said the Rays were making arrangements for a three-day hospital stay and subsequent stint in a Tampa Bay area rehab facility as an alternative for the 26-year-old, but that will have to wait as Bush remains in a Charlotte County jail.

"He understands that his career is potentially in jeopardy," Kirshy told the court. "And his life is potentially in jeopardy."

Bush, who has a history of alcohol problems, appeared on closed circuit TV from jail but didn't speak in the hearing. Kirshy argued for a much smaller bond, saying the San Diego native qualifies as "indigent," with a $78,000 minor-league salary and just $2,000 in the bank.

However, prosecutor Richard Simpson pointed out Bush's previous arrests, as well as the fact that the victim, 72-year-old Tony Tufano, is in the intensive care unit at a Fort Myers hospital with serious injuries as a result of the accident.

Bush was arrested Thursday night in North Port after fleeing the scene of an accident in which police say the Dodge SUV he was driving hit Tufano's motorcycle, with a rear tire running over Tufano's head. Bush, who was driving with a suspended license and had a blood alcohol percentage of .180, more than twice the level at which Florida considers a driver impaired, told police he didn't remember seeing — or hitting — a motorcycle.

"My heart goes out to (Tufano's family), I know that Mr. Bush's heart goes out to them," Kirshy said. "Anybody who knows Matt knows that he's one of the most sweetest, most soft-spoken people you'll ever meet, and that's exactly the way he was. He was very subdued, very worried, very introspective."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com

Judge sets bond for Rays' Matt Bush at more than $1 million 03/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 24, 2012 9:59pm]
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