Broward News

Ryan LeVin Pleads Guilty to Deadly Hit and Run, Pays Settlement, Gets House Arrest (Updated)

Ryan LeVin, the hard-partying, bad-boy scion of an Illinois costume jewelry company, came clean to a judge today, admitting that he mowed down two British tourists in 2009 and fled the scene in his Porsche.

LeVin's punishment: He got grounded.

Judge Barbara McCarthy decided to throw the book at LeVin slap the Patrick Bateman lookalike on the wrists, giving him two years house arrest,

ten years' probation, and 1,000 hours of community service, not prison time.

That deal seems to have come about because LeVin paid off the victims' families.

In letters to the court, the victims' families asked that soft-spoken Circuit Judge McCarthy grant LeVin house arrest -- so that they could be sure to get settlement money. Most of details of the deal are secret.

Both the families' civil lawyers and David Bogenschutz, the high-profile lawyer who's representing LeVin, won't say how much it costs to essentially buy a favorable sentence.

Florida law requires that judges take victims' requests into consideration during sentencing, but their requests are not binding.

The plea hearing decision began around 7:45 a.m. Friday when LeVin, as dapper as he was dour, walked in wearing glasses and a gray, pinstriped suit. The 36 year-old Levin - who'd previously pleaded not guilty to running over Craig Elford and Kenneth Watkinson (and who'd also at one point tried to pin the crime on his friend, Derek Cook) - told McCarthy that he now wanted to plead guilty.

LeVin mentioned to the judge that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia about a year ago. He said he was under treatment, but not on meds. Before sentencing, Bogenschutz asked the judge to consider a slimmer-than-required sentence because of the civil settlement between LeVin and the victims' families.

The victims' widows submitted letters to the court through their attorneys, which McCarthy read aloud. Both said that they were financially ruined --the victims were the sole breadwinners of their families - as well as emotionally devastated.

The basic gist of the nearly identical notes was that a sentence requiring house arrest, probation, and that LeVin never drive again would be bittersweet but would assure that the families get the cash that they needed to stay afloat. If LeVin was in prison, so the letters' reasoned, he might not pay up.

Prosecutor Stefanie Newman handled the move by showing a laundry list of LeVin's reckless lifestyle - felony fleeing and eluding in Illinois, coke possession, for starters - and pictures of the maimed British businessmen.

McCarthy, however, was unconvinced. She gave LeVin a sentence which, theoretically, lets the wild Midwesterner reflect on his actions poolside. Bogenschutz would not say in which home LeVin would serve out his sentence. 

After the hearing, LeVin hid out in the courtroom for an hour after completing the necessary paper work, to avoid reporters. He declined to comment to the Pulp.

Bogenschutz rejected the idea that his client had bought an easy out. Instead, he said, the short-sentence-and-settlement combo was "much more palatable" to all parties than straight-up jail time.

Bogenschutz also said that the schizophrenia explained LeVin's history of misbehavior. When asked why LeVin or his family had not checked into the man's mental health before the trial, Bogenschutz said: "You'd have to talk to the people that talked to him five, ten, 15 years ago."

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Victoria Bekiempis