Ryan LeVin's Sentence: Lawyers Call It Checkbook Justice
|Broward Sheriff's Office|
In case you forgot, Judge Barbara McCarthy sentenced LeVin to two years house arrest, ten years probation, and 1,000 hours of community service for making roadkill out of two British tourists in a hit-and-run on Fort Lauderdale's Seabreeze Boulevard in 2009.
The same day LeVin was told he'd be grounded for two years, 56-year-old Richard Cleveland Glinton Sr. was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Palm Beach County judge for a very similar crime, but killing only half the people.
While LeVin paid an undisclosed amount of money for the representation of Broward lawyer J. David Bogenschutz, Glinton was appointed a public defender, according to court documents.
Add in the fact that LeVin agreed to pay -- again, an undisclosed amount -- to the families of his victims, McCarthy said the restitution outweighed the need to send LeVin to prison, and people are starting to believe having money can buy your way out of prison in Broward County courthouses.
"It is an outrage, and there should not be a single person in our community that is not offended by the fact that it is clear you can buy justice in Broward County," public defender Howard Finkelstein told the Daily Mail. "If it is appropriate that you not go to prison when you have money, it should also be appropriate that you not go to prison when you have no money."
University of Florida professor and former federal prosecutor Michael Seigel happens to agree.
"It is an unbelievably light sentence," he tells the Chicago Tribune. "It is very disturbing."
While prosecutor Stefanie Newman was asking for a lenient sentence for LeVin -- 10 years instead of the guidelines' 20 to 40 years -- Bogenschutz ended up getting LeVin off with house arrest and asked for the county to give his client's Porsche 911 Turbo back.
Todd Weicholz, a former Palm Beach County prosecutor, told the Sun-Sentinel a similar story.
"I did not find out until later this was a multimillion-dollar settlement," he said. "They kind of went behind my back. I was caught off guard."
Update: McCarthy says this morning that now she's decided LeVin will have to wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle.
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