Ron Levin: His Criminal History, Documented

The following FBI documents describe how Ron Levin (alias Ronald Rothchild, alias Ronald Levine, alias Sam Goldberg, alias Ronald Weatherby) got out from under FBI charges of bank larceny for passing $250,000 in fake checks: by disappearing.

When the Beverly Hills Police department decided that Joe Hunt was the suspect, with no body and only circumstantial evidence, the letter says, “no further investigation will be conducted.”

 

When investigators began connecting the dots and began looking into Levin’s criminal history, they compiled a list that was “just a sample” of what police had on file under his name: grand theft, battery, stolen property, a stolen vehicle, harassment, robbery (indicated as “211”), burglary, and an alleged drug act involving a minor.

When investigators went to Levin’s listed place of employment, they found that the address was a fake: nothing more than a mailbox in an office building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an FBI interview with a corporate security administrator for Fidelity Group, investigators learned that Ron Levin deposited bad checks into two accounts and immediately attempted to  withdraw the funds. Following Levin’s suspicious activities, Fidelity hired an investigator, who learned that Levin had an extensive criminal history and had over 100 civil court filings against him, and had associates in organized crime.

In an interview in which Joe Hunt discussed the infamous “to do” list that was part of his trial, Joe mentioned the multitude of lawsuits Levin faced, and how they left the unrepentant con man unfazed.

“The idea of civilly suing him — it’s just like, get in line,” Joe said. Levin had boasted to Boys Club members that he was an expert at converting criminal fraud into a civil matter to avoid arrest, so legal action simply didn’t seem like a meaningful option.

Joe explained that the list was written out not as a literal plan of action, but part of a desperate ploy to intimidate Levin into paying back funds he had swindled from Joe and Joe’s investors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Levin tried to pull a similar bank fraud with Progressive Savings and Loan, as detailed in the following letters to the U.S. Attorney:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further FBI investigation revealed that Levin also heisted a drawing by Andy Warhol from an art gallery, and then offered his “services” to the gallery to help recover it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was Levin’s theft of $500,000 (in 1980s dollars!) worth of video and photographic equipment, detailed in this story from the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner that called Levin’s loot a “One-man video warehouse.”

The story illustrates that Levin’s criminal history ran the gamut from sophisticated cons to common thievery.

Free copy of Joe’s novel Blue Dharma

Hello Supporters!

As a token of his appreciation for your attention and support, Joe has asked us to share a special gift: 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.

A word from Joe about the novel and of the title:

“The collaboration with Alan Adams on this series has proven to be one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. Starting with Alan’s seed-thought seven years ago, it has grown far beyond our first expectations. Blue is the color of prisoners, but it is also the color of this planet and the astral world. Dharma, from the Sanskrit root dhri, “to uphold or support,” in simple terms, means religion or righteousness. In a deeper sense, it refers to the eternal laws that uphold the divine order of the universe and of man, its microcosm. It is written that Man should perform virtuous dharma so that he can free himself from the laws of cause and effect and thereby realize his true nature as spirit.”

Download your free PDF of the book below, and check out the links to help you convert to your favorite eReader format. Happy reading! We sure hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Blessings,

Katherine and Michael

 

Blue Dharma Novel (PDF)

How to convert pdf for Kindle

How to convert pdf to ePUB for Nook and Kobo

P.S. If you’d like us to publish a version already converted to ePUB format, let us know!

The Joe Hunt Case: The Basics

In 1988, one true crime story dominated the news cycle: The Billionaire Boys Club.

Three decades later, the story has faded from the tabloids, but it remains the painful present-day reality of club leader Joe Hunt, who remains in prison, serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for a murder he maintains that he did not commit.

Hunt readily admits to financial misdeeds — he became the unwitting head of a ponzi scheme when a con man named Ron Levin bilked him out of a half million of his investors’ dollars, leaving Joe holding the bag. The 23-year-old Hunt naively overextended himself when he took Levin at his word that he would fund a large commodities investment intended to repay investors with a handsome profit. Instead, Levin assured Hunt he could proceed with a purchase made with nonexistent funds. That’s when law enforcement got involved.

Soon after, Levin, who was out on bail and facing an FBI investigation for grand theft and fraud, went missing. In response to police inquiries, the rich kids of the Billionaire Boys club directed attention away from themselves and pointed to Joe, the scholarship kid. Prosecutors decided to charge Joe with Levin’s murder, even with no body and no forensic evidence.

In addition to defending their client, Joe’s lawyers were burdened with the task of filing a judicial misconduct motion for mistrial after Judge Laurence Rittenband, well known as a “prosecutor’s judge,” slapped one member of the defense team with a gag order, leaving a workload meant to be divided among two lawyers to just one.

A Los Angeles Times article about the judge’s conduct explained that the mistrial motion raised charges that “Rittenband deliberately elicited prejudicial evidence against Hunt by questioning witnesses, that he belittled and banished defense staff from the courtroom, that he frequently refused to allow the defense to approach the bench to voice objections and that he aligned himself with the prosecution by grimacing, smirking and showing impatience and disbelief at crucial points in the defense’s cross-examination of witnesses.”

Ultimately, Hunt’s media notoriety (which extended to a fictionalized 1980s made-for-TV movie and a 2018 version of his story starring Kevin Spacey) worked against him in the trial, and he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole — which many observers characterized as an unjust sentence, especially in a murder case with no physical evidence — not even a body. Hunt’s sentence is an anomaly, not comparable to those of his fellow Boys Club members or even far more notorious criminals. For example, even the psychopathic cult leader Charles Manson was granted several opportunities to go before a parole board for his role in multiple murders. Yet Hunt has has never been granted the right to a parole board hearing.

Grants of parole consideration are made not by guilt or innocence, but by an evaluation of an inmate’s rehabilitation, as well as an evaluation of any threat they may pose to public safety. Hunt hangs his hopes on a commutation petition that, if granted, would give him the opportunity to go before a parole board. Hunt, if given the opportunity, could make a strong case. His prison record is blemish-free, and his commutation application includes many letters of support, including letters from prison guards and chaplains.

“In my opinion, Hunt has no inclination to re-offend. All of his activities appear directed towards positive goals,” wrote a correctional officer from Pleasant Valley State Prison. “He has a reputation for helping others. I would place him solidly in the top one percent as far as suitability for reintegration with society.”

It’s testimonies like these — 47 in all are included with his petition — that form the last remaining basis for Hunt’s hope of release.

“I do hope that attention is drawn to the fight of people who have life without the possibility of parole,” Hunt said of the website his family has created to share information about his campaign for release, FreeJoeHunt.com.

Hunt explained that like himself, many of his fellow inmates who have been incarcerated since their youth have made profound changes by the time they reach middle age. “So I do hope that society as a whole becomes acquainted with this fact and they make room for the fact that the the work they have done is redemptive, and possibility invite them back to that role in society.”

 

Levin hunters: This 1996 Los Angeles Times story summarizes the reasonable doubts around Ron Levin’s disappearance.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Dead or Alive?
Billionaire Boys Club founder, convicted of murder, contends victim is still living. Prosecutors doubt witnesses’ accounts.

July 12, 1996
Alan Abrahamson

Ron Levin is dead. Or maybe he’s not.

Joe Hunt helped kill him and then buried the body in the Angeles National Forest.

Or maybe he didn’t and, like Elvis, Levin keeps turning up: at a funeral, driving a car through Brentwood, even relaxing in a taverna on a trendy Greek island.

Levin’s body has never been found.

And therein lies the riddle that has dominated a reprise of the Billionaire Boys Club saga–the drama that riveted Los Angeles in the 1980s and played out again over recent months at the Criminal Courts Building.

Is Levin really dead? Or has Levin, a skilled con artist, staged his own disappearance and pulled the ultimate con?

Hunt, the charismatic leader of the club and himself a man who’s been described as a con of some renown, was convicted nine years ago of murder. Since March, he and his lawyers have been back in court, arguing that he deserves a new trial, mostly on grounds that Levin is alive and well.

Read the rest at LATimes.com

Fighting to End the Other Death Sentence: Life Without Parole

TRUTHOUT

By Jean Troustine

When incarcerated people in 17 states initiated a 19-day prison strike last month, one of their 10 demands was that all “imprisoned humans have [the] possibility of rehabilitation and parole.” This includes the opportunity for early release, allowing prisoners both to exit before the end of their sentence and to serve their remaining time in the community.

The Lady Lifers at SCI Muncy sing, "This Is Not My Home" at TEDx in 2014.
The Lady Lifers at SCI Muncy sing, “This Is Not My Home” at TEDx in 2014.
COURTESY OF ELLEN MELCHIONDO AND NAOMI BLOUNT

 

 

It also means an end to the harsh sentencing practice known as life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). In an August 26 interview with MSNBC, formerly incarcerated activist Darren Mack described LWOP as “death by incarceration,” explaining, “You will not leave prison until you die.”

Noted political scientist and author Marie Gottschalk has called life without parole “death in slow motion.” Pope Francis deemed it “a death penalty in disguise.” Kenneth Hartman, who served more than 37 years in prison before California governor Jerry Brown commuted his sentence, was the first to label it “the other death penalty.” When he was still behind bars, Hartman wrote for The Marshall Project that life without parole is “the sense of being dead while you’re still alive, the feeling of being dumped into a deep well struggling to tread water until, some 40 or 50 years later, you drown.”

Across the country, activists inside and outside prison are making headway in organizing to end this harsh sentencing practice. They say more and more people are realizing that the US is an outlier in extreme sentencing. Jonathan Simon, writing in Life Without Parole: America’s New Death Penalty by Charles Ogletree and Austin Serat, Jr., explains that the United States, unlike Europe, rejects the role of “dignity” in its sentencing practices. Joseph Dole, currently serving life without parole at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois, and the author of numerous articles (several published in Truthout) discussed progress against harsh sentencing in a letter: “There has finally been an acknowledgment that long sentences are the main driver of mass incarceration, that people age out of crime and are thus less of a threat when they are older, and that longer sentences don’t deter or reduce crime.”

 

Read the rest at Truthout.org

Report wants life without parole abolished

ABC NEWS

By Kevin Johnson and USA Today

A record 140,610 inmates in state and federal prisons are serving life sentences and nearly one-third of those have no possibility of parole, according to a criminal justice research group that supports alternatives to incarceration.

The Sentencing Project, whose reports are regularly cited in academic and government reviews examining criminal justice policy, concluded that the number of inmates sentenced to life without parole has more than tripled to 41,095 since 1992. The report, citing in part the rising cost of incarceration, urges that life without parole be abolished.

The recommendation was met with strong opposition from some law enforcement officials who said life sentences, including life without parole, help drive down violent crime.

Joseph Cassilly, past president of the National District Attorneys Association, acknowledged that long prison terms are a “huge drain on resources.”

Read more at ABC News

Inmate paroled with Joe Hunt’s help

With the help of Joe Hunt, William Baldwin of Contra Costa County was released on September 8, 2018 from the California Health Care Facility at Stockton.

Joe met William, nicknamed “D,” at Pleasant Valley State Penitentiary, and the two became friends. In 2014, William received a copy of a letter sent by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to his trial judge demanding an increase in his sentence. In the letter, corrections officials took the position that there had been a sentencing error in William’s case, and they believed the law required William’s trial judge to increase his sentence by two years.

William came to Joe for help, and Joe filed a brief in opposition to CDCR’s request for resentencing on William’s behalf. After reviewing Joe’s filing, William’s trial judge did the exact opposite of what the corrections department had recommended: he reduced William’s sentence by two and a half years.

“Any time I have an opportunity to help someone in need, I am grateful,” Joe said. “It’s deeply gratifying to know that I had a role obtaining justice, and ultimately, freedom, for a friend.”

If you believe in hope, justice, and rehabilitation, join our cause, and give hope not only to Joe Hunt, but to prisoners everywhere sentenced to life without parole -- "the other death penalty."

Sign the petition