Joe Hunt, a kid from a working-class family who had attended the city’s most prestigious prep school on a full scholarship, formed the "Billionaire Boys Club" investment group 35 years ago with some of his former classmates to show the team members’ wealthy parents that their sons could succeed on their own.
The enterprise turned tragic when its members were charged with the murders of Hedayat Eslaminia (the father of a Billionaire Boys Club associate) and of Ron Levin – a crafty grifter who conned the Billionaire Boys Club and others out of millions before disappearing. Although other Billionaire Boys Club members received short-to-nonexistent prison sentences and although Levin’s body was never found (witnesses even 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 soon abolish. There is also a grassroots movement to substantially scale back the skyrocketing number of state inmates serving life without parole.
Joe with his girlfriend's father, film producer Bobby Roberts, during the Billionaire Boys Club days
Joe with his sister Katherine and her daughter
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 represented himself in the Eslaminia trial and called many of those same witnesses, he became the first defendant in state history to be acquitted of murder while representing himself.
If Joe had been eligible for parole, he would easily have exceeded the standards that a parole board must apply when considering release. He has been a model inmate who raised thousands for his church and ministered and offered legal assistance to fellow inmates. However, under his current sentence, he is not able to request a parole hearing.
After quietly enduring a series of unfavorable legal rulings from a judicial system that appears biased against such a high-profile defendant, Joe, now in his 60s, has petitioned the Governor of California for commutation of his sentence, seeking an opportunity to plead his case before a parole board.