Sean Levert, a third of the 1980s R&B trio LeVert and son of lead O’Jays singer Eddie Levert, has died after falling ill while serving a jail term. He was 39. Authorities said Monday that an autopsy was inconclusive but foul play was ruled out.
Levert was sentenced last week to one year and 10 months in jail for failing to pay $89,025 in child support. He died at Lutheran Hospital in Cleveland late Sunday, less than an hour after he was taken there from the jail, said coroner Frank Miller.
Levert was sentenced by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo, who said a presentence report indicated he had been addicted to marijuana from the time he was 14 until recently. He didn’t speak at his sentencing and gave no indication of any health problems, the judge said Monday.
His brother Gerald Levert, who had success as a solo artist after leaving their trio died in 2006 at age 40 of an accidental mix of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
The brothers had formed LeVert in the 1980s with childhood friend Marc Gordon. Their hits included “Baby I’m Ready,” “(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind” and “Casanova.”
“Casanova” was nominated for a Grammy in 1988 for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal. It was also nominated for best R&B song.
At Gerald Levert’s funeral service in November 2006, Sean Levert and his father performed “Dance With My Father” and personalized the words for Gerald. The elder Levert’s group, the O’Jays, was known for such smash hits as “Back Stabbers” and “Love Train.”
Sean Levert found a new third partner last year and was trying to revive LeVert.
An autopsy was done Monday but no immediate cause of death was determined, according to Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County’s coroner’s office, but he said there was no evidence of foul play or trauma.
Levert suffered from high blood pressure and had been hallucinating in jail, Caesar said. Toxicology reports could take four to six weeks, he said.
Warden Kevin McDonough said earlier that Levert had been sick and guards were watching him at the jail’s regular cellblock because he had been acting strangely.
Sean Levert had pleaded guilty last week to six counts of nonsupport involving children ages 11, 15 and 17.