Many people only know the tabloid and made-for-TV movie versions of Joe Hunt’s story. Learn the real story, and why he deserves release from prison.
In addition to health issues, Hunt’s petition points to numerous trial irregularities and new laws that call for reductions in the sentences of youth offenders
Joe Hunt is now 60 years old and is petitioning for a commutation from Governor Gavin Newsom. Arrested at age 24, Hunt is asking for a sentence reduction, citing numerous trial irregularities, his vulnerability to covid, compounded by a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, and his exemplary prison record.
“It’s a tragic waste -- both of taxpayer resources and of a life that could have been spent contributing to society,” said Joe’s brother-in-law Michael Olivier. “Look at all of the things Joe has accomplished while in prison and imagine what could have been.”
Those who have become familiar with the facts know that Hunt has spent his more than three decades of incarceration applying himself to good causes.
Many people only know the tabloid, book, TV or movie versions of the Billionaire Boys Club.
Joe Hunt, a working-class wunderkind who attended Los Angeles’s most prestigious prep school on a full scholarship, later formed an investment group with former classmates who wanted to show their wealthy parents they could succeed on their own. The enterprise turned tragic when some of its members were charged with the murders of Hedayat Eslaminia (the father of a Boys Club associate) and of Ron Levin – a crafty grifter who conned the BBC and others out of millions before disappearing.
Thirty-five years after the club’s formation, there is much more to the story.
Although other Boys Club members received short-to-nonexistent prison sentences and although Levin’s body was never found (witnesses reported seeing him alive after his disappearance), Hunt was convicted of Levin’s murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole under legal theories that the state may abolish.
In addition, there are various groups pushing to substantially scale back the skyrocketing number of state inmates serving life without parole.
For many years, Joe has fought for his freedom, arguing that his defense attorney in the Levin trial violated his Sixth Amendment rights by failing to call key witnesses. When Joe called many of those same witnesses in the Eslaminia trial, he became the first defendant in state history to be acquitted of murder while representing himself.
If Joe were eligible for parole, he would easily exceed the standards that a parole board must apply when considering release. Joe has been a model inmate who raised thousands for his church and ministered and offered legal assistance to fellow inmates. However, under his sentence, he is not able to request a parole hearing.
After quietly suffering through a series of unfavorable legal rulings from a judicial system that seems biased against such a high-profile inmate, and facing the prospect of turning 60 behind bars, Joe has now petitioned the governor for commutation of his sentence so he can plead his case before a parole board. Hunt and his family believe there’s hope of commutation before the end of 2018, when Gov. Jerry Brown retires, because the legendary politician has commuted other LWOP sentences.
Joe’s family asks that the public learn the facts and sign the petition.
Joe invites you to enjoy a free copy of his novel, Blue Dharma: The Story of Anaiyailla, which he co-authored with his cellmate Alan Adams. Recounting the struggle between good and evil, this book is complete with Demons, Elves, and other mythical creatures.
"This enthralling tale, the first of a four-part series, bears much similarity to The Lord of the Rings trilogy; fans of fantasy fiction who aren’t drawn to the tale’s spiritual aspects will still find a great deal to enjoy.... A winning and complex fantasy tale." --Kirkus Book Reviews
The 1980s tabloid sensation that was the Billionaire Boys Club case grabbed headlines and imaginations around the world, with its connections to wealth, crime, and Beverly Hills -- perfect fodder for a media frenzy. But the Hollywood dramatization of these events took a toll on real people.
Joe has admitted that the Billionaire Boys Club, which he started shortly after high school, was a pyramid scheme, and he's admitted to running it. But he is not a murderer.
Joe was acquitted of one murder charge, and his lawyers, friends, and supporters believe he would also have been acquitted of the Ron Levin "murder" (which may not have been a murder at all) if he had received a fair trial, with a competent attorney and an unbiased judge.
At present, Joe's pending claim asserts that his Sixth Amendment rights to counsel were violated by his unprepared and inadequate trial lawyer, and that the judge in his case had a conflict of interest. Learn more.
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