November 30, 2015

After enduring many aspects of the criminal justice system, my friends would tell you that I am much more desensitized to bad news. Frankly, I have become numb to most of it.

That was not always the case.

While fighting my case, for example, I would get very emotional or overreact to any news I would hear from my lawyers. Some news, like when UBS claimed I was a rogue employee who acted alone, sent me into total isolation.

Then I went to prison. While there I gained a sense of perspective and tolerance. After all, my 18-month sentence was but a blip in my life. Others, however, like my partner Michael Santos had endured decades inside. Suddenly, trivial things that used to really upset me, didn’t matter as much.

I share this news because my holiday weekend was uprooted after I learned that a competitor stole content that Michael and I worked on. Suddenly, I became very angry, and reacted much like I did when I received bad news while I was fighting my case.

While negative emails or the haters out there who do not like my work no longer bother me, the reality that someone had stolen content did. I was furious.

I shared my frustrations with Michael who acknowledged people had been stealing his work for more than 20 years. He handled it better than I did.

Besides the stealing of content, it’s troubling that a vulnerable defendant or family in need might work with someone like this who is both dishonest and unethical.

I share this note to remind all of you to conduct your due diligence. Just because someone has a nice-looking website, and tells you they can help you, doesn’t mean they can.

Just like you should vet me, or your lawyer, you should scrutinize and interview anyone you choose to work with.

For example, Michael and I have a narrative writing program. That program has helped many defendants shorten their prison sentence. I can assure you that many of the people who signed up spoke with our client’s who had already benefited. Look past the buzzwords and cliches others offer and pay attention to the evidence, including case studies, testimonials and references.

I am passionate about this because I do not want others to make the bad decisions I made. Embarrassingly, while fighting my case I fell victim to a swindler who promised me the world. I gave thousands to his public relations firm to try to push down my Department of Justice press releases. It did not work.

Never forget, this situation can leave one vulnerable, and make us easily accept any news that can make us feel better.

In prison, Michael reminded me “we cannot buy success” or “a desired outcome.” Our clients that achieve the best outcomes work hard and follow the template we layout.

I’ve politely written this competitor asking him to take down the content. I reminded him that all business people borrow ideas from one another, but stealing is unacceptable. I hope he’ll do the right thing and take it down.

Profit from my experience. Conduct your due diligence, check references and do not fall victim to anyone who promises you the world or offers that coveted “guarantee.”

And if you speak to my competitors, simply inquire into how they developed their programs or content. You will know instantly who is authentic and who is not.


Justin Paperny, Director, White Collar Advice

Due Your Due Diligence
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