http://www.sun-sentinel.com/chi-porsche ... 0113.story
Jail halts playboy's life in the fast lane
Ryan LeVin basked in the South Florida lifestyle.
The scion of a wealthy Chicago-area family, he lived in an oceanfront condo owned by his parents and drove around Ft. Lauderdale in a Porsche 911 Turbo valued at more than $120,000. No longer employed by his parents' jewelry company, his main responsibility was tending to their two properties in an exclusive seaside neighborhood.
His privileged lifestyle ended abruptly this week when LeVin, 34, landed in Cook County Jail for a probation violation stemming from a 2006 car chase in Chicago.
In Florida, authorities continued Tuesday to investigate his ties to a hit-and-run crash that killed two British tourists.
The fatal crash has grabbed international headlines, with London tabloids portraying LeVin of Hoffman Estates as the "millionaire playboy" whose Porsche recklessly plowed into Kenneth Watkinson, 48, and Craig Elford, 39, as they walked back to their Ft. Lauderdale hotel Feb. 13.
The crash left five children fatherless and sparked outrage in England and South Florida, where journalists and Internet sleuths launched their own investigations. Even as LeVin sat behind bars Tuesday, new details emerged about drug use and run-ins with the law.
Ft. Lauderdale police say LeVin owned the white Porsche involved in the crash, but they have not called him a suspect. No charges have been filed in the case.
LeVin has said he was not driving the sports car when the crash occurred. Employees at a trendy Ft. Lauderdale restaurant confirmed he had been in the establishment that evening and left by himself in the Porsche. About an hour before the crash, a valet saw LeVin's sports car speeding up and down Las Olas Boulevard, one of the city's main drags, according to the restaurant's general manager.
On Tuesday, Ft. Lauderdale police released a recording of the 911 call placed shortly after the hit-and-run.
When the dispatcher asks if the car is still there, the caller calmly tells her "no."
"I just see a headlight, and there are, like, two gentlemen laying in the bush and they're all over the place," she says. "They look really hurt."
LeVin's Florida lawyer cautioned this week against a rush to judgment, saying the media had distorted the situation.
For LeVin, however, the case casts a harsh light on his lavish lifestyle. Raised as one of eight children in his parents' Barrington mansion—a Tudor-style home with its own ballroom and an enormous closet reserved specifically for his mother's theatrical evening gowns—he developed an appreciation for fast cars and even faster living, public records show.
His parents, Arthur and Shirley, made millions from Jewels by Park Lane, a direct-sales juggernaut that relies on at-home parties to sell its jewelry. The couple also own several harness racing horses and ranks among the sport's winningest owners.
The LeVins issued a statement last week expressing sympathy for the crash's victims and said they would handle the situation privately as a family. Ryan LeVin does not work for the company, according to the release.
He referred to himself as the company's vice president of national sales in court documents from 2007. In those same records, he details a substance abuse problem he says began with casual cocaine use when he was 21 and escalated following a bitter divorce in 2004.
Court documents connected to his divorce paint a darker picture of his drug addiction. His then-wife filed a restraining order against him in May 2003, accusing him of being a heroin addict who hid methadone in their car so she wouldn't find it. She accused LeVin of abusing Ativan, Valium, marijuana and sleeping pills.
Authorities were called to the couple's Texas home in April 2003 for a domestic disturbance, according to police records. LeVin's wife, who was pregnant, told police he had thrown her down on the couch and kneed her in the abdomen.
She did not press charges but filed for divorce three weeks later while LeVin was in Chicago. The judge granted a restraining order, instructing LeVin to stay away from his wife and stepson.
The couple, only married for three months before separating, officially divorced in 2004. Their daughter, now 5, lives with her mother in suburban Houston.
LeVin has racked up more than 50 traffic violations in Cook County since 1992, according to court records.
After a 2004 conviction in Lake County for unlawful possession of a controlled substance, he got a year of probation and was ordered to substance abuse class.
LeVin was ordered to attend drug treatment a second time following a 2006 incident in which he ran over a police officer and instigated a high-speed chase on the Kennedy Expressway. Authorities found a small bag of cocaine in the car.
In exchange for a lighter sentence, LeVin pleaded guilty to felony aggravated fleeing in November 2007 and was sentenced to 30 months of probation and mandatory substance abuse counseling.
LeVin was remanded Monday to Cook County jail for failing to complete drug treatment. The judge ordered him held without bail.
LeVin's Schaumburg lawyer, Michael Norris, contends his client underwent substance abuse counseling in Florida, but LeVin objected to the counselor's demand he stop taking the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
Though his parents have attended previous court appearances with him, they did not accompany him to the county courthouse in Skokie.
Norris said the LeVins would have been there if they knew he was going to be locked up.
LeVin, who appeared surprised by his incarceration, will return to court Thursday to discuss whether he's eligible for a special substance abuse program at the jail.