After 6 years in prison, Levitt seeks early release

Jeffrey A. Levitt, the savings and loan swindler serving a 30-year sentence for filching $14.6 million from his thrift, is seeking early release from prison.

Levitt, 50, the former president of the now-defunct Old Court Savings and Loan, appeared before a Maryland Parole Commission hearing officer yesterday morning at the Baltimore City Correctional Center, the minimum-security prison where he is in the sixth year of his sentence.


A decision on whether to grant him parole will not be made for "several weeks," said Paul J. Davis, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission. The parole hearing was Levitt's first since being sentenced to prison in 1986 after he pleaded guilty to the theft.

Levitt and his late wife, Karol, came to personify the greed of the 1980s because of their lavish lifestyle, which they paid for with money stolen from the thrift. Mrs. Levitt died in 1989.


Levitt and other thrift industry officials -- many of whom also were convicted of theft -- were blamed for the collapse of Maryland's savings and loan industry in 1985.

He is eligible for parole after having served just 22 percent of his sentence because his crime was committed before Jan. 1, 1986. State law now requires that prisoners who committed crimes after that date serve 25 percent of their sentences before being considered for parole, Mr. Davis said.

Present at yesterday's hearing were Levitt and a prison system correctional case manager, who presented a pre-parole summary to the hearing officer. While documents presented allow for a recommendation by the case manager on whether to parole Levitt, Mr. Davis said he did not know whether a recommendation was made. Even if one were made, he said, that information is considered confidential.

Levitt has been infraction-free while in prison, said Cpl. J. Scott McCauley, spokesman for the Division of Correction.

Levitt did have one run-in with prison authorities. In May 1990, he was given 10 days in solitary confinement at the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup after guards found a hypodermic syringe in a cell he shared with another prisoner. Both Levitt and his cellmate, Robert F. Christopher, denied knowing anything about the syringe and both tested negative for drug use.

Levitt appealed a decision of a prison administrative hearing board that upheld the charge of possessing the syringe. Last December an Anne Arundel County circuit judge found in his favor. Levitt was later exonerated of any involvement with the syringe, Corporal McCauley said.

Levitt's activities prompted the state of Maryland to take over Old Court in the spring of 1985, precipitating the virtual collapse of the state's savings and loan industry and the private fund that then insured the accounts of a number of Maryland thrifts.