The owner of a Monona auto repair shop, accused in March of kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman he picked up, was offered evidence last month stating that the assault never happened if he agreed to pay $50,000 to an associate of the woman to “settle” the case, according to a recently filed criminal complaint.
The scheme, described in a complaint filed in May against Cory J. Ivy, 31, and in a search warrant filed Wednesday in Dane County Circuit Court, offered Mathew E. Levin, 50, of Verona, a way of “settling out of court” the criminal charges filed against him in March, when he was accused by a 25-year-old woman of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her at his shop.
Ivy, of Madison, is charged with making threats to accuse Levin of a crime with intent to extort money. The charge was filed on May 18. Ivy is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on July 3. He is free on a signature bond.
The charges involving Levin, because of their seriousness, garnered extensive media coverage. He told police, the complaint states, that the accusations crippled his business and that other shops were calling him, offering to buy his tools because they had heard he was going out of business, the complaint states.
Levin also charged that the entire situation may have been “a set up” all along, the complaint states. His lawyer, Michael Short, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Wednesday he could not immediately say what impact the Ivy case would have on Levin’s prosecution.
Levin was charged with four felonies for the alleged March 19 incident, in which the woman told police that he had picked her up and offered her a ride home from Madison’s Far East Side, but instead took her to his Monona shop, attacked her, tore her shirt off and threatened her. She escaped, she said, when he stopped at a gas station on East Broadway, a criminal complaint states.
Levin was released from jail on $50,000 bail that was furnished by a relative, he told police in the complaint against Ivy.
According to that complaint:
Levin told police that on May 11 he received a text message that came from the same number he had used earlier to contact the woman after seeing her ad on Backpage, a classified advertising website that has since been seized by the FBI and other agencies as part of a human trafficking investigation. The Backpage contact, he said, led to the alleged sexual assault incident.
A short time later, Levin received a text message from another number asking “Are you interested in settling (out) of court.” Levin said he called Short and an investigator working for Short, Gregory Schuler. Short told him to reply “Yes.” Soon after, Levin received a call from another number, which he did not answer, and Short advised Levin to call the police.
An officer arrived and took an initial statement. While the officer was outside speaking with a supervisor, Levin received more text messages. The first asked for “complete discretion” for the negotiation, another stated that the sender was a “very close associate of the woman in this matter” who had “no knowledge” that the sender was contacting Levin, although “from past discussions she was open.”
A third message asked Levin to have his lawyers contact the sender to set up a meeting. Levin said he would.
A May 15 meeting was set up in the parking lot of Walgreens, 108 Cottage Grove Road. Schuler initially didn’t know who he was looking for but eventually met up with Ivy, who did not want to give Schuler his name.
Ivy asked what Levin was willing to pay, adding that the woman is the mother of Ivy’s child and they were looking for a “relocation fee.” He eventually asked for $50,000. Ivy said that the woman would write a note saying that the incident with Levin never happened and was a mistake, and said she would also not show up for court.
They agreed to meet in the same parking lot the next day, and Ivy would bring the woman with him. Schuler was to have Levin’s money.
Before that May 16 meeting, Schuler met with police, who arranged to cover the meeting and arrest Ivy. Police also converged on a minivan in a nearby parking lot, from which Ivy had emerged, and found the woman and two other people inside. The woman told police that they were waiting for “Cory” who was meeting someone, but she claimed not to know what the meeting was about.
Another woman in the van said she was Ivy’s cousin. She said that after Ivy had gotten out of the van, she learned that the other woman was the woman involved in the sexual assault incident she had seen on the news.
After his arrest, Ivy initially claimed to police that the woman in the van was his cousin’s friend and that he didn’t know her name. Told he was lying, Ivy then claimed that Levin had set up the payment scheme through one of his own customers and that the customer, whose name and phone number Ivy did not know, reached out to Ivy.
The woman told police that Ivy had asked her if she would “settle out of court” with Levin and she told him to look into it if he wanted to. She said she didn’t ask him to do anything, had nothing to do with what happened and didn’t know about it until Ivy’s cousin said something to her.