A man arrested for running a gun trafficking ring was once accused of torturing and murdering beloved Bronx schoolteacher Jonathan Levin, police have said.
Montoun Hart was spared jailed over the 1997 murder which shocked New York after a sympathetic jury moved to acquit, the New York Daily News reported.
Levin, 31, was tortured with a knife for his ATM pin before being stabbed and shot to death in his Upper West Side apartment on May 30, 1997.
The teacher was the son of then-Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin and was known to be wealthy.
His card later used to withdraw $800 from an ATM machine three blocks away on the day he was killed.
When Levin did not turn up for work the following day police went to his apartment and found his body strapped to a chair with duct tape.
Montoun Hart (left) was spared jailed over the 1997 murder of teacher Jonathan Levin which shocked New York after a sympathetic jury moved to acquit. He was arrested for gun trafficking last week. Pictured: Hart is led from the 79th Precinct in Brooklyn after being charged with murder [File photo]
Pictured: Students of murdered schoolteacher Jonathan Levin cry after his funeral in New York in 1997 [File photo]
Corey Arthur, a former student of Levin’s at Taft High School was convicted for the murder two years later.
Arthur was identified by an answering machine message asking to arrange a meeting that he had left for Levin on the day of his murder.
Despite Arthur’s conviction, the victim’s mother Carol Levin said on Monday that she still believed Hart had had a hand in the crime.
‘Oh he was involved,’ Levin, 80, told the New York Daily News.
‘I’m glad he’s arrested. Maybe this time it’ll stick.’
At the 1999 trial, jurors were convinced that Hart had been too inebriated when he signed the 11-page confession for them to be able to trust that the information he provided hadn’t been coerced.
Arthur remains in prison and will be eligible to go before the parole board in 2022.
Levin’s former student Corey Arthur (center) was convicted of the murder in 1999 and remains in prison. Pictured: Arthur is led from the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn after being charged with the murder [File photo]
Following the trial, Hart maintained his innocence, telling Mrs Levin after his acquittal: ‘I’m sorry ma’am for your son but I did not do this.’
In the decades since the trial, Hart has been arrested several times, the New York Daily News reported.
He has been charged with numerous drugs offences as well as driving without a licence and possession of a defaced machine gun, the paper attributed a ‘police source’ as saying.
Jonathan Levin, the son of Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin was found dead in his apartment on Monday June 2, 1997
Gerald Levin at the funeral of his son Jonathan
The apartment building where Levin was murdered is pictured in 1997 [File photo]
Last Thursday, Hart added still more charges to his rap sheet after he was arrested following a year-long joint investigation by the NYPD and the Brooklyn DA’s office into gun trafficking.
He was found to have been selling guns in Brooklyn from suppliers who moved the weapons up the so-called Iron Pipeline from the southern states, prosecutors said.
After receiving a tip, they reportedly tapped Hart’s phone while two undercover officers posed as clients for months, buying a total of 44 guns from Hart in a series of transactions.
Hart has been ordered to be held without bail on multiple charges including criminal possession of a weapon, criminal sale of a firearm and conspiracy, the New York Daily News reported.
A cousin of Hart’s told the newspaper they were ‘shocked’ by the arrest last week.
They described him as ‘a good person’ and said the father-of-two worked as a messenger and provided for his mother who was in a nursing home.
‘He was always involved in taking care of her and taking care of the house for her. He was a good person. He was all about helping his mother because she was sick in the nursing home, and taking care of the bills,’ the cousin said.