Michael Levine, a Hollywood publicist sued in L.A. Superior Court on Monday, said he neverestablished a $25,000 reward for his murdered friend Ronni Chasen and thus should not be sued for failing to pay it.
Levine was named in the lawsuit demanding a $125,000 reward, citing the publicist along with the Palm Springs Film Festival for failing to pay a promised bounty for finding Chasen’s killer.
The suit was filed by an unnamed “John Doe” who said he was the tipster who had called the “America’s Most Wanted” television show and led police to Harold Martin Smith, the alleged killer.
In a letter by his lawyer Eric George, Levine demanded that he be removed from the lawsuit, saying, “Your complaint is devoid of evidentiary or legal support, not to mention common sense.”
George said that Levine only said that he hoped to raise a fund of a $25,000 to find Chasen’s killer, but that after Chasen’s family asked him to demur never followed through.
“Mr. Levine ceased his efforts to raise a reward fund out of respect for the wishes of Ms. Chasen’s family,” he wrote.
George wrote that unless the claims against Levine were dismissed, he would seek court sanctions and legal fees as damages.
Harold Matzner, chairman of the Palm Springs Festival, said he did not believe police provided sufficient evidence that Smith was the murderer to support paying the $100,000 reward.