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'Billionaire' Bodyguard Avoids Retrial

November 10, 1987|Times Wire Services

A bodyguard for the Billionaire Boys Club pleaded guilty today to being an accessory to the murder of a Beverly Hills con man whose body has never been found.

Under terms of the plea bargain with the district attorney's office, James Pittman, 34, who has been in custody since October, 1984, will not have to serve any additional jail time when sentenced Dec. 1 for the June, 1984, killing of Ron Levin.

Pittman also pleaded guilty in a separate case to possessing a handgun. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of three years in state prison, the time Pittman has already been jailed.

However, Pittman will remain in custody pending trial in Northern California for the murder-kidnaping of a wealthy Iranian in an alleged scheme to get him to sign over his fortune to the BBC.

BBC founder Joe Hunt, convicted last June of Levin's murder, also faces trial for the Northern California slaying.

Prosecutors offered Pittman the plea bargain one week after his second murder trial, held in the Santa Monica branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, ended in a deadlocked jury.

Pittman's lawyer, Jeffrey Brodey, said his client agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charges because of a two-part television movie on the BBC that aired earlier this week on NBC. The docudrama depicted Pittman--under a different name--as the triggerman who killed Levin.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Fred Wapner said he agreed to the plea bargain because "given the state of the evidence, it's not likely he would have been convicted" of first-degree murder.

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