Ronni Chasen Murder Tipster Sues for $125K Reward

But Palm Springs festival, which offered the reward, says there’s insufficient evidence in the case

Last Updated: October 3, 2011 @ 8:48 PM

The man who claims to have provided the tip leading police to publicist Ronni Chasen's murderer is suing for $125,000 in reward money he says he's owed.

"John Doe" sued Harold Matzner, chairman of the Palm Springs Film Festival and publicist Michael Levine in L.A. Superior Court Monday, claiming breach of contract, promissory estoppel and fraud.

The suit demands the $100,000 reward promised by the Palm Springs festival, and a $25,000 reward offered by Levine. 

The informant says that he called in to the television show "America's Most Wanted" with information on the killer, which eventually led police to Harold Martin Smith.

Read the full lawsuit here.

Also read: Ronni Chasen Tipster Will Get $100,000 Reward

But in an interview with TheWrap, Matzner said he still was unconvinced that Harold Martin Smith was Chasen's murderer, and he doesn't believe there is enough evidence to justify dispensing the reward.

“All we have is a gun. We don’t have anything else,” he told TheWrap. “And I’m sorry that’s where we are.”

Smith was being approached by police officers for questioning when he shot himself dead. The reward was offered for information leading to "the arrest and conviction" of Chasen's murderer.

Also read: Report: BHPD Chief Declares Ronni Chasen Murder Solved

In July, police told TheWrap that Chasen was murdered with a gun stolen from a police officer, and officially closed the case. 

The suit claims that the Beverly Hills Police Department can vouch that the plaintiff is the sole tipster in the case.

Matzner said that despite declaring the case closed, Beverly Hills police have offered him no hard evidence that Smith shot Chasen.

“It’s not enough with a case of this import to simply declare it closed without revealing the evidence that supports that conclusion,” said Matzner. "All we have is the gun. I can’t get anything else from the Beverly Hills police department. That’s not enough. If they have something that puts him at the scene with the gun, they need to share it. “

In a letter to the Holland & Knight law firm dated July 22, the Beverly Hills Police Department merely identifies Smith as "the outstanding suspect" in the case. "Through interviews, scientific evidence and ballistics, it was determined that Mr. Smith was the outstanding suspect in the Chasen homicide and that he acted alone," the letter reads. (Read the full letter here.)

As Matzner sees it, "outstanding suspect" is a far cry from determining that Smith was actually responsible for Chasen's death, let alone convicting him.

The BHPD concluded that Smith was responsible for Chasen's murder, and had acted alone. The department's conclusion has been met with skepticism among many who believe that the full story surrounding Chasen's death was never revealed.

Chasen was shot to death on Nov. 16, 2010, while returning home from a party for the movie "Burlesque."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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