Checkbook Justice: Wealthy Chicago Man Kills Two Brits With Porsche, Leaves Scene, Lies To Police, Falsely Accuses a Friend . . . And Is Allowed to Avoid Jail After Writing a Check To The Families Of The Victims

Ryan LeVin, 36, will be able to actually live in “a prison of his own making.’ The scion of a wealthy Chicago-area family, LeVin killed British businessmen Craig Elford, 39, and Kenneth Watkinson, 48, while driving his $120,000 Porsche 911 Turbo. He then lied to police, left the scene of the accident, and blamed the accident on a friend. Yet, Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy decided no jail time was needed because the wealthy LeVin offered to pay the families of the dead men. Instead of 45 years in prison, McCarthy gave him two years home incarceration in his luxury home.

The affidavit in the case shows that LeVin was at a strip club partying before mowing down the men.

The widows accepted the deal in exchange for large checks and McCarthy ruled that “[t]he need for restitution does outweigh the need for prison.” McCarthy reportedly had to even prod LeVin to say anything to the victims in open court and he then omitted one small detail: an apology.

He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal crash and two counts of vehicular homicide. He could have received 45 years for the deaths, but instead he will

Now here is the really great part: LeVin was on probation in Illinois for a 2006 case in which he had driven into a Chicago police officer and instigated a chase on the Kennedy Expressway. He has more than 50 traffic violations and a long history of drug abuse.

The Florida prosecutors wanted him to serve 10 years in prison, LeVin threw himself on the mercy of the court and his lawyer argued that the need for LeVin to pay restitution to the men’s widows and children outweighed the need for LeVin to serve prison time. In perhaps the most unfortunate choice of words in a vehicle manslaughter case, his defense attorney David Bogenschutz insisted “the wives and children of the deceased were significantly and permanently impacted by this incident.” Putting aside that the “incident” was a felony crime, it is surprising that McCarthy bought it. By the way, Bogenschutz has requested that the Porsche be returned to LeVin.

The article below notes that “a South Florida driver who pleaded guilty to a similar hit-and-run crash with one fatality was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution.”

I do not blame defense counsel who did an amazing job for his client. However, this is the most disturbing and frankly disgusting example of checkbook justice that I have seen in many years. The fault lies with Judge McCarthy, who despite having an impressive background, seems to have missed the gross inequities in this case. In her favor, the families wanted this result, but McCarthy has a duty to see that justice is done. Given this man’s record, I cannot see how such a short sentence in a luxury home satisfies the demands of justice. Adding to the controversy is a report that McCarthy was just reelected to a six year term with the help of her campaign deputy treasurer . . . you guessed it . . . David Bogenschutz

The case seems to return to a system of blood money where culprits would be help in jail while the family negotiated the price for his liberty. The families literally held the key and failure to reach an agreement could lead to death or banishment. Of course, in such a system, two dead men just become a cost of a spoiled kid’s pleasure.

Source: Chicago Breaking News

Jonathan Turley

Kudos: Dave Mattox

28 thoughts on “Checkbook Justice: Wealthy Chicago Man Kills Two Brits With Porsche, Leaves Scene, Lies To Police, Falsely Accuses a Friend . . . And Is Allowed to Avoid Jail After Writing a Check To The Families Of The Victims”

  1. One more reason why judges should be appointed and not elected. Disgraceful. Can someone who doesn’t practice in front of her file an ethics complaint?

  2. This is an amazing example of checkbook justice and this Judge should be looking for a new profession. Isn’t there a conflict here with this judge handling a case for her campaign deputy treasurer??

  3. Is appears that this was done citing US Law. Islamic law, under Shafi’is and Hanbalis interpretations seem to allow that family members can accept payment (diya) instead of demanding punishment.

    Question for Professor Turley. Even if not cited, would a “No Sharia Law” in Florida demand that this ruling be vacated? FYI really do enjoy your blog.

    See William and Mary Journal fo Women and the Law, Vol II, Issue 3, The Death Penality in Traditional Islamic Law and as Interpreted in Saudia Arabia and Nigeria, pages 518, 519

  4. And this differs from that “heathen” concept of “blood money” how???

  5. Now tell me honestly, would you be more or less offended if the courtroom posted the cost to avoid jail time for different offenses?

  6. Mike S: “…live his life confined to 50,000 luxurious square feet.”

    The first article I read o this case observed that although he was ‘confined’ he was not required to wear an ankle device. That’s insult to injury.

    This article did though answer a question I had about Illinois exerting jurisdiction regarding his status as a parolee, Illinois is seeking to revoke his parol and put him in jail. That works for me as it’s the only real justice to come out of this.

  7. Bette Noir-

    Tiffany&Co. outbid Cartier on LeVin’s electronic ankle bracelet. The diamond and emerald encrusted solid gold masterpiece should be ready shortly after Elford and Watkinson’s funerals.

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