Joe Hunt: White Collar Psychopath
Anything for Money
Five young men met in at the Villa Motel near Belmont, California, to carry out a desperate plan, which they referred to as "Project Sam." What started as an investment club had turned into a nightmare venture. Later a defense lawyer would say they were simply "immature," while others saw them as cold-blooded monsters.
According to the subsequent testimony of Dean Karny, under the guidance of Joe Hunt, Karny, Ben Dosti, and Jim Pittman were to kidnap Hedayat Eslaminia, a wealthy Iranian political exile, and force him to sign over his assets to his son, Reza. In fact, Reza was among the five. It's not clear whether Reza understood the entire plan — that once the transaction was done, the father would be killed — but he did want to take over his father's business, which he believed was worth about thirty million dollars. Reza would then invest in the club that had recently accepted him as a member and thereby get it out of the serious financial debt it had accumulated. Everyone was supposed to win... except Hedayat.
The club was the BBC Consolidated, Inc., set up in the early 1980s and known in jest as the Billionaire Boys Club. According to Randall Sullivan in The Price of Experience, it was partly an investing corporation and partly a private social club. But it wouldn't be much of anything at all in the days to come unless the members managed to get their hands on a massive amount of cash in a hurry. This plan had to work.
It was Reza who had suggested it, as those who were there later recalled, persuading club leader Joe Hunt that kidnapping his father wouldn't necessarily be traced to them. His father, who had been friends with the deposed Shah of Iran, had many enemies under the Ayatollah Khomeni's rule and Reza believed they could easily deflect the blame to some anonymous group.
It sounded good, and Joe Hunt was ready to take on anything in which he could expect to succeed and enrich himself. In fact, after they located a "safe house" in which to keep Reza's father, Joe expected to have to apply some torture and he dubbed himself "the torture master." He seemed to look forward to the role, at least, according to Dean Karny.
In her book, The Billionaire Boys Club, author Sue Horton describes the bungled kidnapping on the night of July 30, 1984. Her work later inspired a movie starring Judd Nelson as Joe Hunt, although some of the names were changed.