Billionaire Boys Club Bodyguard Admits Slaying in TV Interview : Murder: The man who has twice escaped conviction for the crime says he shot a con man to help a club member. He says he cannot be tried again.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Billionaire Boys Club bodyguard Jim Pittman, who twice eluded conviction on charges that he killed Beverly Hills con man Ron Levin, admitted in a television interview that he did commit the crime.

"Yes, I did kill Ron Levin, but I can't be tried for it twice," Pittman said in an interview aired Thursday on "A Current Affair."

Pittman says he shot Levin in the presence of Billionaire Boys Club leader and master planner Joe Hunt, who is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole for his role in the 1984 murder.

Pittman pleaded guilty in 1987 to a reduced count of being an accessory to murder after the fact. Two different juries had been unable to reach a verdict on charges that he was the triggerman in the Levin slaying. He was sentenced to three years and six months, time he had already served.

"They cannot charge me for the murder of Ron Levin because they dropped it," Pittman said. "They dismissed it . . . so it would be like double jeopardy to try me twice."

Pittman was the doorman at Hunt's Westwood condominium before he became involved with the club, a social and investment group of young men from prestigious Southern California families.

Hunt wanted Levin killed, Pittman alleged, because "Levin was the first person ever to make Joe look like a fool in front of the rest of the guys."

In excerpts of the interview released by the show, Pittman said Levin conned Hunt out of some money, "and I knew that he wanted to get even with Ron Levin and he asked me to help him out."

Pittman claims that he went to Levin's Beverly Hills home with Hunt and that Hunt made Levin sign a check for $1.3 million.

"Joe nodded and that was my signal to do what I had to do," said Pittman. "I shot him one time in the back of the head and he died immediately. . . . Then we wrapped up Ron Levin real quick in a comforter."

The two then drove Levin's body to a canyon 45 miles north of Los Angeles, disfigured it with dozens of shotgun blasts so it could not be recognized and buried it, Pittman said.

Because Levin's body has never been found, the case remains open.

Beverly Hills police, contacted a few months ago by a reporter working with Pittman, have searched for the body a couple of times without finding it, said Lt. Frank Salcido.

"Mr. Pittman was assisting us in locating the body, and he brought along his own film crew," Salcido said.

After his 1987 plea, Pittman remained in custody in California, awaiting trial on murder charges in another Billionaire Boys Club case, the 1984 kidnaping and murder of wealthy Iranian Hedayat Eslaminia in Northern California, authorities said.

Hunt was tried in that slaying but the jury deadlocked and charges against him were dropped earlier this year. Two other club members were convicted of murder in the case in 1988 and are serving prison terms.

The charges against Pittman in the Eslaminia killing were also dismissed in April, said John Vance, deputy state attorney general.

"We still needed time to conduct further investigations," Vance said, declining to elaborate.

Vance also would not comment on what effect, if any, Pittman's confession would have on the Eslaminia case or Hunt's appeal of his conviction in the Levin case.

After Pittman's release, Virginia authorities took him into custody on warrants outstanding from the early 1980s. Beverly Hills police helped Pittman clear up those charges in return for his assistance in finding Levin's body, said Salcido, who added that he did not know details of the Virginia case.

Salcido added that police were not contemplating new charges against Pittman as a result of his revelation.

"I don't know if anything is going to come of this or not," Salcido said. "We have basically an open investigation."

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office had no comment on Pittman's confession. "We don't have any case pending before us now, so there's nothing really to talk about," said a spokeswoman.

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