To his evident surprise, the owner of a Porsche linked to the hit-and-run deaths of two pedestrians in Fort Lauderdale was ordered jailed Monday in Illinois for violating his terms of probation for a high-speed car chase in Chicago.
Ryan LeVin, 34, was taken into custody at a court hearing in suburban Chicago after a judge found he had failed to complete a drug treatment program.
LeVin had agreed to attend drug counseling as part of a plea deal for a July 2006 chase that injured one Chicago police officer and two motorists.
LeVin, who comes from a well-to-do Chicago-area family, was ordered held at the Cook County Jail without bail. He has another court hearing scheduled Thursday to see whether he meets the eligibility requirements to get into the jail's drug treatment program.
Fort Lauderdale police have not named LeVin or anyone else as a suspect in the Feb. 13 accident that killed British businessmen Craig Elford, 39, and Kenneth Watkinson, 48, as they strolled along State Road A1A to their beachfront hotel.
Witnesses called 911 shortly before the two men were fatally hit from behind to report that a Porsche and another light-colored sports car were racing. The Porsche was found abandoned soon afterward and impounded by police.
LeVin has told the Sun Sentinel he was not behind the wheel at the time of the crash. He declined to comment further, referring all questions to his attorney, Keith Seltzer.
"Things are not as they seem and not as the media is making it out to be," Seltzer said Monday, refusing to elaborate.Fort Lauderdale police declined Monday to discuss any aspects of the investigation.
LeVin, of Hoffman Estates, Ill., has been on probation since November 2007 after pleading guilty to a count of aggravated fleeing for a July 31, 2006, chase on Chicago's Kennedy Expressway. He reached speeds of 100 mph before crashing his 2001 Porsche Targa, according to court records.
Monday's morning's decision by Cook County Circuit Judge William O'Brien appeared to surprise LeVin, who showed up to the Skokie Courthouse in a dark suit and a black wool coat. After being taken into custody, he handed his silk tie, watch, wallet and his iPhone to his Illinois attorney, Michael Norris, for safekeeping.
The Fort Lauderdale investigation was briefly mentioned at the hearing, as Norris told the judge that police were expecting LeVin to return to Florida to provide a "sample" related to the pedestrians' deaths. The judge said Florida law enforcement could travel to Chicago to obtain it.
Though his parents, Arthur and Shirley LeVin, had attended previous court appearances with him, they were not there Monday. Norris said the couple, founders of the Jewels by Park Lane costume jewelry empire, would have been there to support their son if they knew he was being taken into custody.
Norris implied to the judge that LeVin completed a substance abuse program in Florida, but said his client objected to the counselor's demand that he stop taking the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
LeVin has a significant panic disorder and his personal physician does not want him to stop taking the prescription pills, Norris said.
"He shouldn't be going off Xanax at this point," Norris said.
The argument failed to sway O'Brien. The judge indicated he would like LeVin to join a special drug treatment program at the jail to fulfill the conditions of his plea agreement.
After the 2:30 a.m. accident on Fort Lauderdale beach, LeVin's damaged Porsche 911 Turbo was found empty, less than an hour later. It was on the northbound ramp of Interstate 595 to Interstate 95, with the windshield spider-webbed with cracks and the left headlight damaged.
In other Monday developments, a downtown Fort Lauderdale restaurant said it is cooperating with the police investigation into the double hit-and-run fatal.
LeVin left YOLO, 333 E. Las Olas Blvd., about 1 a.m. the night of the accident, said Andy Fox, the restaurant's general manager. Fox said LeVin got into his Porsche alone.
A short time after LeVin left, a valet saw the Porsche speed up and down Las Olas, Fox said.
Jon Burstein can be reached at jburstein@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4491.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun