Richard Lippner, the wealthy Fort Lauderdale socialite under investigation after two young women died in his apartment four months apart, will not be charged with a crime related to their deaths, according to police.
This afternoon, Fort Lauderdale police spokesperson Sgt. Frank Sousa said the case against Lippner is closed. Though police say that they believe Lippner supplied the women -- one of whom was underaged -- with alcohol and drugs and that he lied during an interview with investigators, Sousa says there simply is not enough evidence to bring charges at this time.
See the UPDATE below.
"A case like this is difficult to prove," Sousa said. "There are a lot of parts that have to come together." He added, "Like all closed cases, if any new information presents itself and we believe it to be credible, we will investigate further."
A few weeks ago, New Times published a cover story about the case. On January 27 of this year, paramedics responded to a 911 call and found 23-year-old Brianna Negron unresponsive on the floor of Lippner's Fort Lauderdale condo. Police found Casey DiStefano, a 20-year-old aspiring model from New Jersey, in a similar condition less than four months after Brianna's death. Toxicology reports found similar substances in both women: a mixture of cocaine, Xanax, alcohol, and the powerful prescription painkiller oxycodone.
Upon hearing that the case against her client was closed, Lippner's attorney, Melody Ridgley Fortunato, said this is "good news." She said she will issue an official statement within the next few hours.
The families of the girls were unhappy about the Police Department's decision to close the case. "It's disappointing," said Eileen Stotzer-Warnock, Casey DiStefano's mother, who lives in New Jersey. "I was kind of expecting this, but it's still a disappointment. I guess the laws down there just aren't what they are up here."
UPDATE: We just got a call from Sgt. Frank Sousa, and he had a clarification. He said he made a mistake when he said the case had been closed by both the police and the prosecutor's office. "We've closed the case on our end, but they have not made a decision on whether to bring charges," Sousa said. This means that there is still a possibility Richard Lippner could be charged.