You may remember that about a month ago, Ryan LeVin was sentenced to house arrest in Broward County after hitting two British businessmen while driving his Porsche in Fort Lauderdale. Well, the Sun Sentinel reports that LeVin is now in custody in the State of Illinois after his parole was revoked for an Illinois offense. He is accused of violating the terms of his Illinois parole by leaving the State without permission, when he came to Florida to answer the charges of vehicular homicide. LeVin said he did not tell his probation officer that he was leaving Illinois because he wanted to post bond in Florida, and planned to return to Illinois to finish his parole there. In revoking his parole, the board was unsympathetic to LeVin’s claims. The length of his incarceration is unknown.
The Sun Sentinel published an article today, June 10, 2011, discussing the sentencing disparity between two criminal cases: State v. Ryan LeVin, and State v. Maximo Gordon. While LeVin was fortunate to receive the benefit of a downward departure, Gordon was not so lucky. LeVin’s downward departure was the result of negotiations between counsel for the Defendant and counsel representing the family of the victims. Counsel argued that LeVin should not be imprisoned because the need for restitution to the family outweighed the need for imprisonment. Although the State requested an unspecified term of imprisonment, the Judge ultimately sided with the Defendant and imposed a sentence that allows LeVin to remain on house arrest in his parent’s oceanfront condo. However, Gordon received a sentence of over four years’ imprisonment.
Both LeVin and Gordon each had prior criminal records. But LeVin, who fatally struck two British businessmen and fled in his Porsche, gets to remain on house arrest, while Gordon, who fled officers on an ATV in a field in Deerfield Beach and injured nobody, gets sentenced to over 4 years’ imprisonment. While the ultimate sentence imposed is always at the discretion of the Judge, and each case needs to be considered on its own merits, the striking disparity in sentencing in these two cases does little to refute the public impression that those with money receive different treatment from the courts than those without money. Let’s hope that is not what occurred here.