Michael: So, I’m really excited to be speaking with my friend, and partner, and colleague, Justin Paperny about federal prison planning.
Obviously, all of you know him, because if you’re on this section you’re a member of our program. I just wanted to ask Justin a few things that differentiate a white-collar offender from perhaps some of the other people that may go into prison from a more criminogenic background. That’s a big word for people who went to USC, but basically it means, it means people who have a criminal background. I know many white-collar offenders don’t really come from a criminal background. They just fall into the place.
Justin Paperny: I’ve asked you not to use words in our videos that I don’t know what they mean, so, let’s start there. First off, before we get into it, looks like you have a wonderful tan, while most America was freezing. Can you tell us a little bit about Belize over the last week?
Michael: Not only while most of America was freezing, but while the stock market was tanking, I was doing what I learned to do in federal prison, which is look for opportunities where others don’t see them, and I flew down to Belize on a kind of a recognizance mission, Justin, in fact I’m glad you asked that because I’ve been meaning to join me in this new venture that I’m creating called Prison to Paradise. So, yeah, I traveled down to Belize, explored the extraordinary development known as The Reserve, I purchased a piece of property there. I’m going to be developing that property there. I definitely want you to be a partner in it with me Justin.
Justin Paperny: Can I put up some photos? I’ll put up some photos of your trip.
Michael: Oh yeah. I’ve got extraordinary photos-
Justin Paperny: All right.
Michael: … to definitely weave into the videos. In fact, I’m going to be publishing little simple video probably by tomorrow that describes what I’m trying to do, which I want you and [Shawn 00:01:42] to be a partner in it, but also why some of your listeners should be thinking about this. I know that you’re spinning out of control when you’re going into this, but look at me. I mean I was in jail for 26 years. I’ve been out for less than five years. I’m crushing it. That’s what I want you to do. I can’t if you stick with Justin’s program.
Justin Paperny: Well, I agree. Part of the reason I wanted to talk about this … I was at USC last week talking to all these business classes and students and some of the students were fascinated.
I asked them, “What do you think is the greatest consequence of a white collar conviction or going to prison?” And all of them just focused on prison, prison, prison. And before I went to prison, all I was obsessed with … “My God, I may go to prison. What can I do to get my ass out of prison?” In retrospect-
Michael: One thing you should have thought about when you were thinking about that Justin is not try to come out looking like you were in prison with all that facial hair that you’ve got going on [crosstalk 00:02:31].
Justin Paperny: Thank you. Yeah. It’s Valentine’s Day today and my wife is a fan of facial hair, so as itchy and uncomfortable as it is, for her I’m growing it for just through today. So, yes I look a little like a hoodlum, but it’ll be gone here soon enough. So, thank you for commenting. I did actually shave every day in prison. Just not today. Please. Thank you. Where were we?
The greatest consequence of it, I assumed it was federal prison and all these students presumed it would be prison, and one student’s like, you know, “Isn’t it maybe even worth it to try to steal a few million bucks if you’re only going to serve like six months in one of those you know country club camps? Is the risk worth the reward?”
And I began to express, you know, the greatest consequence wasn’t necessarily time in a minimum security camp, but it’s all these consequences that follow it. And I thought we’d touch on that a little bit and perhaps help some white collard defendants or any potential defendant watching understand it’s just prison to get through, it’s creating strategies that five, 10, 20, like you just said, five years post your release from prison, you own homes and you’re buying properties. Well it didn’t happen by accident. So, I don’t know, just have a general conversation about that.
Michael: Yeah. Why don’t you tell a little bit about some of those consequences that many of the people you encountered face?
Justin Paperny: Well, I think I remember in my case as a white collar defendant there’s a series of almost like lower lows, where you don’t think it’s going to … I remember getting fired from UBS and getting walked down to my car from two big guys that you know, the day I got fired, and just got to tell yourself, “Well, it can’t worse than this. I got fired. Big deal.” And then the FBI shows up. Well, okay, you know, it probably can’t get worse than this, and then you get through it, and then the indictment or you see your name online, and hiring lawyers and the civil and all the lawsuits and all the expenses that come along with it-
Michael: Tell us a little bit about those expenses.
Justin Paperny: Well, in my case because I was in denial and so naive, I didn’t understand how to vet of hire a criminal defense attorney, so I tended to believe whatever they told me or whatever that buzz words that sounded good at the time that I thought could get my ass out of this. So, if they said something like, just that I wanted to hear, I pulled out, thankfully despite losing all my, most of my money going to prison Michael, I’ll tell you one thing that remained. My Citi card with a lot of credit on it, despite the 24% interest, okay. So, any time a lawyer or someone said something that could help me, I just pulled it out and paid. So, 50 became 100, became 200, became 250, and at the end of the day I had good lawyers I suppose, but I was lazy, and I didn’t work, and I just didn’t-
Michael: I thought you bought a phenomenal course about how to beat a lie detector test. Tell us about that.
Justin Paperny: Yeah, so that was actually bought on this Citi card. So, I was in such denial while fighting my case, and I was convinced that I had done absolutely nothing that I told my lawyers that I’d be willing to take a lie detector test, and of course they said to me, “You can take the test. It’s going to cost like five or seven grand.” And at the point, you’re like spending so much money, who cares about seven grand-
Michael: You said something there that’s really relevant for any of your listeners. You said that, “I was so convinced that I didn’t do anything wrong.” And I truthfully find that very hard to believe.
Justin Paperny: Thank you.
Michael: I do. I want you to tell me or assess whether it was, “I felt I didn’t do anything wrong,” or, “I felt that I could figure out and manipulate a way so that others would not think I did something wrong, but I knew what I did.”
Justin Paperny: Right, so let’s talk about that. So, now I’m 43 of course, 10 or 11 years into this space and a lot of work behind me and to tell this story effectively, while even a little embarrassing, I have to take you back to my culture and time, what I was thinking as a 29 and 30-year-old. Back then I was interested in federal prison planning. So, we’re talking 13 years ago. So, it’s a little embarrassing, but if I’m going to be authentic, I’m going to talk about my mindset 13 years ago. So, yes, going back 13 years ago, 14 years ago, I convinced myself that because I had some success in the past, perhaps at manipulating and advancing my interest and getting ahead as a stockbroker really quickly, I told myself that I could manipulate my way out of this.
So, yes I knew that it was wrong, that I was doing … Didn’t think criminal. I didn’t think I could ever go to jail for it. I thought civilly I should be sanctioned, probably should have lost my job, but where I was raised I never thought about going to prison. But I did figure that with the right lawyers, scratching the right checks, knowing the right people, influencing people I suppose with money and some of my BS so to speak, that I could manipulate my way to a productive outcome. And that’s why I spend seven grand on a lie detector test, or five grand.
Michael: Because you’re bringing up a good point, because when you first said, “I was absolutely convinced that I didn’t do anything wrong,” I think a lot of the viewers that are watching this have that same, have a different mindset. In their heart of hearts, in their mind, they know what they did. People, I mean, I don’t want to say, “They know what they did.”
Justin Paperny: Yeah.
Michael: People who broke the law know that they broke the law, but we’re so used to facing challenges and overcoming obstacles and advancing our life that we sometimes make these decisions, and that’s why your story is so important, is to recognize and say, “You know what? I knew I did something wrong, but I had confidence in myself and my ability to maneuver or manipulate events, that I was going to do everything and anything to advance that agenda. I went all in, including spending seven grand on a lie detector test, including spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an attorney.
Whereas if I would have listened to Justin Paperny’s story, I may have recalibrated a moment, and said, “Wait. Is there a better way?” And when you begin asking those kinds of questions, those better questions, maybe people can make better decisions.
Justin Paperny: Here’s something that’s so important about a better way. In retrospect, I realize there’s this difference between wanting and needing. Like I needed to better prepare and take action, but I didn’t really want to. I really wanted to live in denial and eat poorly and not exercise and shun my family and many of my friends ostracized me, but it was my fault. And part of the reason why Michael is I didn’t really want to work. I was that guy that liked talk about it but didn’t follow through. I said all the right things to my family. I’m going to make amends. I’m going to work. I’m sorry. But if you were to look at my day-to-day actions, I didn’t know how to hold a lawyer accountable. I just deferred to them because it’s a former US attorney whose smart, and I get that call of defendants all the time, from a defendant that I have. A former US attorney, he’s great, he’s going to write the greatest sentencing memorandum in the world. I have a lawyer from a … A letter from a former Congressman and then I point him to a video that you did I think with Judge [Bennett 00:09:13], where I’m like, “They don’t care if it’s from a Congressman. It can be from a plumber or gardener. Does it speak to your character? Does it speak to your, you know, integrity?” I didn’t do those things. I just outsource it all. And part of that is I didn’t really want to work. It wasn’t a money thing. I had the money. I had a credit card. I could have gotten it. I was just lazy. I didn’t want to work and I tried to buy an outcome.
Michael: Well, I think that’s a good start to this episode. Why don’t we cut this off right here-
Justin Paperny: Okay.
Michael: Let’s do another one, because people may not want to watch for 30 minutes, we’re going to do a series–
Justin Paperny: Okay.
Michael: … of 10-minute interviews, and what I want to leave you with is a takeaway, okay. If you are watching this program, and you are contemplating, “How am I going to maneuver my way through this very tragic event,” understand that you have got as Scott Peck said, “The road less traveled.” You’ve come to Y in the road, and can choose if you would like to deploy resources, to continue perpetuating the myth, to continue to try and manipulate and maneuver events and live in denial, but understand that there are opportunity costs that come with that. Opportunity costs to perhaps to express remorse, accept responsibility, begin showing that you’ll recognize your wrongs. Understand that every step that you take down this road could potentially lead you to a more aggravated sentence. Every step you take along this road could begin toward healing, reconciling, moving forward. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you are able to begin restoring confidence, building life, getting back on the path and moving toward [crosstalk 00:10:51] destined to become. [crosstalk 00:10:54] in the next video.
Justin Paperny: Last thing. Last thing just to close on that why it’s so important. So there’s this … It’s very easy initially to get energetic and excited and create this, say, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” And then the reality sets in that you actually have to change some habits and behaviors and not just say you’re going to hold yourself and others accountable but do it. So I’ve been asked, you know, I try to consult to a degree … If I had a consultant, how I would have wanted-
Michael: Let’s stop. I would like you to do that on the next video.
Justin Paperny: Okay.
Michael: Talk to us about your prison consulting process-
Justin Paperny: Got it. Got it.
Michael: … because others are going to be going for 50 minutes here. We can do this for 10 days.
Justin Paperny: Got it.
Michael: We’re going to do a series of videos, very on point. This one was about living with responsibility, taking action, moving forward. Now we’re going to hear about how it will be if you work with somebody who’s gone down that path. So let’s just standby for the next video. Thank you.
Justin Paperny: Thank you. Thank you.
P.S. If you have yet to be sentenced, I would invest in our sentencing course.