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Plumber fatally poisoned client with fentanyl and stole his money, CA officials say

A gavel. (Dreamstime/TNS)

In January 2022, a neighbor noticed Bill Levy didn’t pick up his newspaper or roll in his trash bins at his California townhouse.

This was unlike the 72-year-old Granada Hills man, “who lived a regimented lifestyle and kept a rigid schedule,” Ventura County Sheriff James Fryhoff said at a May 22 news conference.

Los Angeles police arrived and found Levy dead in his bed during a welfare check, Fryhoff said.

“Although Mr. Levy’s death was unexpected, officers did not have any information or evidence at the time to suggest he fell victim to foul play,” Fryhoff said.

After speaking with Levy’s primary physician, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said at the news conference that the medical examiner decided an autopsy was not needed.

Levy’s death was thought to be of natural causes, Nasarenko said.

However, more than two years after his death, his plumber has been charged in his killing, accused of fatally poisoning Levy with fentanyl, the Ventura County District Attorney Office said in a May 21 news release.

Rotherie Durell Foster, 38, of Camarillo, is facing numerous felony charges, including first-degree murder, identity theft and the intentional and deliberate administration of a poison, Nasarenko said.

An attorney representing Foster did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on May 23.

‘Suspicious, troubling and alarming transactions’

In January, Foster was charged in the killing of a fellow plumber for financial gain, the district attorney’s office said in a Jan. 17 news release.

While prosecutors were building a case against Foster, they subpoenaed his bank account records, Nasarenko said.

In doing so, Nasarenko said they found some “suspicious, troubling and alarming transactions” completed in January 2022.

Among those transactions, Nasarenko said, were “several online mobile transactions from a Billy Levy” into Foster’s bank account.

“They also noticed a check for several thousand drawn on Mr. Levy’s account deposited into the defendants bank account,” Nasarenko said.

The transactions took place the day after Levy’s death, which prosecutors found “alarming and disturbing,” Nasarenko said.

While investigating, Nasarenko said prosecutors found Foster worked as a plumber for a large company and was sent to Levy’s home on several occasions.

“Investigators believe (Foster) used his plumbing trade to identify potential targets for his crimes,” prosecutors said in the release.

‘Almost unprecedented’

After the sheriff’s office was notified that Levy’s death may have been the result of foul play, Fryhoff said investigators exhumed his body to conduct an autopsy.

The autopsy showed Levy died from fentanyl poisoning, and his death was ruled a homicide, Fryhoff said.

Further evidence, including cellphone records, linked Foster to Levy’s killing, according to Fryhoff.

In addition to Levy’s killing, prosecutors said investigators “identified Foster as the suspect in additional crimes,” which include a December 2021 case of financial fraud in Woodland Hills and a July 2022 armed robbery in Fillmore.

“I can’t think of the case wherein an individual was accused of intentionally administering fentanyl, causing their death, who had already been arrested on other murder charges and who also committed additional financial crimes as well as robberies,” Nasarenko said. “This is, in my opinion, almost unprecedented.”

Foster is expected to appear in court on June 6, online jail records show.


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