Extortion plot leads to dismissal of charges against business owner

October 3, 2018

Charges that included kidnapping and sexual assault against a Monona business owner were dismissed Wednesday after prosecutors said that the charges couldn’t be proven because of circumstances discovered after the man’s arrest.

Mathew E. Levin, 50, of Verona, who owns an auto repair shop in Monona, was charged in March with sexually assaulting a woman to whom he had given a ride. The case received a good deal of publicity in local media.

But in May, prosecutors charged a friend of the woman with attempting to extort money from Levin in exchange for a statement that he said she would write denying that the alleged incident involving Levin even happened.

Cory J. Ivy, 31, of Madison, was charged on May 18 with making threats to accuse Levin of a crime with intent to extort money. A December trial is set in the case.

Levin was scheduled to go to trial on the sexual assault and kidnapping charges in about two weeks, but instead, prosecutors dropped the case entirely, saying in court Wednesday that they could no longer meet their burden of proof.

Levin’s lawyer, Michael Short, was pleased that the charges were dismissed.

“Mr. Levin was completely innocent of anything that was alleged and now he can go about getting his business, his reputation and his good name back,” Short said.

The criminal complaint against Ivy states that on May 11, several weeks after Levin was charged in late March, Levin received text messages from the same phone number he had used to contact the woman after seeing her ad on Backpage, a classified advertising website that has since been seized by the FBI as part of a human trafficking investigation.

Further text messages came from another number, the complaint states, asking whether Levin was interested in “settling (out) of court.” Levin and Short contacted police, and the messages continued after police contact.

Ivy eventually asked Levin for a $50,000 “relocation fee” for the woman. A meeting was set up, which police attended, that led to Ivy’s arrest.

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