Joe explains the painful story of how Ron Levin’s scam led to the loss of all of his investors’ money.

Transcript: I was trading at a place called Cantor Fitzgerald for some of my investors, which included the May brothers, and some other people. And I had some of my own money there, and Dean had some money, Ben had some money, and so we were trading commodity futures, contracts for Cantor Fitzgerald which was a local brokerage house that had an office in Beverly Hills.

Anyhow, I saw the opportunity, I was also trading for Ron Levin through first Rauscher Pierce Refsnes, a regional commodity house, and then Clayton, so how I was trading for them and what was actually going on there is an interesting and complicated story.

But setting that aside for a moment, I saw the opportunity to go long, to keep on futures contracts. I thought it was going to be a big move, the interests rates were going to go down which would have meant that future contracts would have gone up. So I told Levin about it.

We had made some money already in the accounts that had been set up with Levin. I was owed around a million dollars at that time since my deal with Levin. So I said to him look, I see this opportunity and I’m going to be buying stuff for my other clients and I’m going to buy some of the account for you, but I’d like to be paid what’s owed me under our contract right now. I said, is there going to be a problem getting me a half a million dollars of a million owed by Friday? This was on a Monday.

He said no problem, and I said well, I’m going to be putting on accounts, I’ll be putting on trades for my own account and for my investors. Is there going to be any problem getting that money by Friday? And he said absolutely no problem — go ahead and do it.

So I put on a bigger position than I had cash for margin at Cantor, and I also put the position on for Levin. Anyhow, of course Levin didn’t pay. I’m sure he had absolutely no intention of paying, just why he would say that after I told him about the context, I don’t know. It was just part of the cruelty of Levin back in those days. This is like 1983, I believe.

Anyhow, so, the money is not forthcoming and on Friday, Cantor Fitzgerald wants their money, because that’s business, and margin call’s due that day. So it was a five day call period back in that time.

Anyhow, I didn’t have it, if the position had declined a little bit it wouldn’t have been a problem had I had the half of million, but the result was they sold it, which was there right and was particularly appropriate. And he moment they sold it in the morning when they blew the position out it was declining at that point. The result was that my investors’ money had been wiped out.

Again, if I had the half of million dollars the position would have been sufficiently margined and that sale would have never occurred. Anyhow, as luck would have it, I was right, and (futures) took off and went on this historic run from what I think was fifty-five to eight-five which was a huge move. Interest rates declined substantially. Now the position, the notional position, that would have been taken on in the Levin account went on to make millions but my investors had lost their money and this was the point at which the BBC shipwrecked which is rather than just straightforwardly telling the outside investors that money had been lost, I just couldn’t emotionally deal with having that conversation.

And since Levin was promising, and had a bunch of excuses and was promising to pay, I thought there is no reason to tell them. I’ll just tell them that everything is fine. In fact, I’ll tell them that everything is going well, and when I get this money from Levin, I will restore the funds that had been lost by the investors and give them a profit.

Now, it’s easy to say at this distance, but the truth was, I couldn’t have cared less about the money at the time. I was just emotionally incapable of facing these people and telling them that I had lost their money.

I knew their money was important to them. Some of them were like widows and orphans investors. There was scholarship money for their children, or money for their children’s tuition for college, money for health matters and stuff like that and I just couldn’t see facing them, so I made a spectacularly stupid mistake and told them everything was cool. And it wasn’t cool.

Video: Joe describes his daily meditation practice

Joe Hunt describes his daily meditation practice, and how it gives him a sense of optimism despite his incarceration.

Transcript:

In order to renew myself, I meditate every day, twice a day.

I do something called pranayamas, which is translated as a set of energization exercises that focus more on the flow of energy in the body than they do on the physical movement.

Like martial artists that work with chi — energy — it’s the same thing, only with the refinement just to promote the free flow of energy throughout the entire body rather than a connection to any particular martial practice.

Anyhow, the meditation is the wellspring from which I try to renew myself emotionally and physically and spiritually everyday.

Some days meditation goes a lot deeper than others, and I’ve experienced at times, states that were otherwise inaccessible to me. And what I mean to say by that, is up until the time I started meditating, I was completely unaware there were higher stages of consciousness.

People could talk about them, but they’re not real unless you actually experience them yourself. And having experienced some of those states, I’ve become personally convinced that we are spirit. We’re not just an animal. And that the spirit survives the life — the bodily life, the bodily existence – so I mean, this is true to me.

It’s a matter of the testimony of many of the great human beings down through the ages, but it became real to me while meditating. And, I would say that my optimism, which prevails most of the time, is rooted in what I’ve personally experienced while meditating.

Video: Joe Hunt explains why he should have been acquitted of robbery.

Joe Hunt explains why he should have been acquitted of robbery using the “Claim of Right” legal doctrine, which exempts people who are reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. Collecting on a legitimate debt is not a robbery at all, because you lack something called the animus furandi of robbery, which is the intent to take property belonging to another.

Transcript:

It feels pretty technical but it affected me and it had really harsh repercussions on my life.

I was charged and convicted of a robbery, and one of theories is that I came in and I had extorted a check for 1.5 million dollars from Levin.

Now unfortunately, my attorneys, at that trial in 1987, their legal education did not extent to something called the Claim of Right Doctrine, which was common law defense to allegations of robbery in California and throughout the United States. That you are taking back from somebody your own personal property or collecting on a legitimate debt is not a robbery at all because you lack something called the animus furandi of robbery, which is the intent to take property belonging to another.

So lacking that mental state, you can’t be convicted of robbery because that is now is a stated element of robbery in law. So for example, you know back in the 1800s if somebody took your horse, if you pursued them and shot them, you might be guilty of manslaughter or murder, but you wouldn’t be guilty of robbery, because it’s your horse.

Now under the state’s theory, Levin owes me 4 million dollars and that is something that he acknowledged publicly and to prosecution witnesses. The state’s theory was that I was seeking to force him to pay me what he owed me from a legitimate business transaction, that being the case, the jury should have been instructed on the Claim of Right defense.

And had they been instructed, given the fact that the prosecution theory was as described, I would have been acquitted of robbery. Unfortunately, when this issue was raised, it was considered too late to have anything done about it, due to certain legal procedural rules.

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

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