A Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. fund-raiser accused of bilking an 82-year-old Greenbelt woman of her life's savings was charged yesterday in Prince George's County with numerous counts of theft, police said.
Keith Levit, 35, of Baltimore, surrendered to Greenbelt police yesterday, Greenbelt police Detective Carolyn McLean said. He was ordered held at Prince George's County jail in lieu of $15,000 bond.
Greenbelt police declined to specify the amount taken or the means. However, sources familiar with the investigation said the woman lost more than $30,000 in June to September 1988. The woman was befriended by a man who later accompanied her to her bank. He represented himself as her son to bank officials, and persuaded her to withdraw her savings, sources said.
The woman also lost money from a life insurance policy, police said.
"Basically, we're talking about her life's savings," said McLean. "She had worked for 30 years and saved carefully and this was essentially all she had."
Greenbelt police began their probe in September 1988, McLean said, after a friend of the woman reported the matter to authorities.
Lyndon LaRouche is a politicial extremist and three-time presidential candidate who is now running for Congress from Virginia's 10th District. He is serving a 15-year term in federal prison for mail fraud and tax evasion.
Levit was one of 16 people indicted in February 1987 in Virginia on securities fraud in LaRouche fund-raising activities, authorities said. The state attorney general alleged that the fund-raisers solicited as much as $30 million in loans knowing that the lenders would never be repaid.
Five LaRouche associates were convicted on the securities charges. The remaining 11 are awaiting trial. Levit, who was indicted for selling unregistered securities, acting as an unregistered broker and for securities or loan fraud, is among those awaiting trial.
Since those indictments were handed up, LaRouche supporters have changed their method of raising funds and have in several instances persuaded people to give them money outright, said Mira Boland, fact-finding director for the Washington office of the Anti-Defamation League, which has been monitoring LaRouche activities.
Levit is the second LaRouche supporter to be charged with theft after allegedly persuading an elderly person to give away thousands of dollars, Boland said. The first case ended in a mistrial, Boland said, after the 89-year-old victim suffered a stroke on the witness stand in Ogle County, Ill.Staff writer Paul W. Valentine contributed to this report.