Ex-Billionaire Boys Club member sought for vehicular manslaughter

Reuters News
Posted: May 13, 2013 9:54 PM

By Ronnie Cohen

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Authorities have asked the public for help in tracking down a onetime member of the so-called Billionaire Boys Club who served prison time in connection with his father's slaying and is now sought as a suspect in a San Francisco traffic death last summer.

An arrest warrant issued in March charges Reza Eslaminia, 52, whose original murder trial helped inspire a network television miniseries starring Judd Nelson, with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

He is accused of running over and killing a pedestrian in a San Francisco crosswalk while driving a taxicab in August.

A jury convicted Eslaminia and an associate of second-degree murder in the 1984 death of his father, Hedayat Eslaminia, a former Iranian government official living in exile in the Bay Area. Prosecutors described the killing as a botched extortion scheme.

The sensational case brought national public attention to the Billionaire Boys Club, a social and investment group organized in Southern California in the 1980s that enticed the sons of wealthy families in the region with various get-rich-quick schemes.

Eslaminia was sentenced in 1988 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But his guilty verdict was overturned on appeal and he was freed from prison in 2000 after spending more than a decade behind bars. He later moved to San Francisco, where he started driving a cab for a living.

San Francisco police arrested Eslaminia immediately after last year's fatal accident. But District Attorney George Gascon said he lacked sufficient evidence to bring the cab driver to trial on the felony charge of vehicular manslaughter, and police released him.

After a lengthy follow-up investigation, the prosecutor opted instead to charge the taxi driver in late March with the lesser offense of misdemeanor manslaughter.

The arrest warrant and complaint says Eslaminia ran a red light, hit a car, spun out of control, then struck and killed Edmond Ralph Capalla, 39. The charge carries a possible one-year jail sentence. Police have searched unsuccessfully for Eslaminia since the warrant was issued on March 29.

"We need to make sure that this man is arrested, arrested quickly and brought to justice," Gascon said at a news conference last week, asking for the public's help in locating the suspect. "He caused not only the death of an innocent person but ruined the life of a family."

Gascon said Eslaminia also is wanted in a 2008 drunken-driving case in Los Angeles, where authorities have issued a separate warrant for his arrest.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)