Get A Shorter Federal Prison Sentence
Hi everyone, it is Justin Paperny with White Collar Advice and Prison Professors, and I’m very grateful for you giving me some of your time. I know your busy, so I’ll jump right in. I wanted to film this video regarding … It’s actually a new client of mine is adamant that I film the video. He’s not quite ready to go on film, not sure he wants to go on film. So he’s asked me to channel his thoughts to you, with the hope that you will take action. And it has to do with his complacency in preparing for sentencing. It started a few months ago, in April he called me to learn more about how he could prepare for sentencing. And I suggested much of what I suggest in our videos. The personal narrative, creating characters reference letters. Working, volunteer work. And a whole host of other things that any white collar defendant should do.
He called I think after watching a video he filmed, where Michael Santos interviewed Federal Judge Stephen Bough. And in that video Judge Bough said about 2% of what influences him at sentencing comes from a lawyer. The balance comes from the defendant. So, on that call he said I want to do all I can to prepare, and I suggested what that process would be.
Now, I’m not overly aggressive on the phone, I don’t think. I don’t say “Hire me today or else.” “This offer is good today or else.” I just say these are the pros and cons of moving forward. Exercise your own judgment, think through what’s best for you and your family. If you view our team as a cost, you’ll probably avoid it. Yet, if you view it as an investment in your future, you may be more inclined to move forward.
So, we spoke, he was excited. He called me back in an hour and said, “Man, I really want to do it, but my lawyer said it’s a no go. My lawyer said I don’t need a consultant. What do I do?” And I said I encourage you to use your own judgment. Even when lawyers refer me their clients, and we get a lot of referrals from lawyers, even when they refer a client to us I still tell the prospect just because your lawyer has referred you to us doesn’t mean that we’re the right fit. Let’s have a conversation, let’s talk about accountability. Let’s talk about what we are hoping to accomplish together.
In this case, a lawyer was against it. And I said you don’t have to make a decision today, think it through. And at the time he didn’t move forward, because his lawyer was against it, primarily because the lawyer kept telling him, “You’re going to get probation.” In my experience, some lawyers placate or mollify their client by simply telling them they’re going to get probation. Even though the guidelines are against it. I know the guidelines are only advisory, but they’re there for a reason, and when you have a guideline range of 24 to 31 months, there’s a good chance you may get sentenced to federal prison.
So, in this case, this client was not cooperating, he was not going to be obtaining a 5K1 letter. Other than accepting responsibility, he had yet to do anything exemplary that would really demonstrate why he was worthy of probation, or a non-custodial sentence that a lawyer kept saying to him, “You’re going to get probation. There’s nothing for you to do, I’ve got it covered.” Whatever that means, almost implying that he knows something, or has some inside information.
So, by virtue of hearing that he was going to get probation, he didn’t prepare. So he didn’t write a compelling narrative, he didn’t adequately collect letters. He wasn’t working or doing volunteer work. I suggested that he could consider speaking with me at one of the many universities I speak to on ethics and white-collar crime. And all of these things sound great to him, he loved the idea of contributing and giving back, yet his lawyers said to him you don’t need a consultant. Whether it was me or somebody else, you don’t need it.
So, what happened? He didn’t act. So, he called me, it was late last week, and said, “I was sentenced to 27 months in prison. I’m just devastated.” I said, “Well tell me about the letter you wrote.” He said, “I didn’t turn one in.” I said, “All right, tell me about the statement that you made at sentencing.” He’s like, “Well I didn’t make one, I just …” “What federal prison did you ask for?” “What do you mean?” Okay. “Did your lawyer ask for the substance abuse program? I know you told me you drank a little bit.” “What do you mean? No, I don’t understand that. Is it in the pre-sentence report? My lawyer wasn’t … what do you mean?” “Well, was your lawyer with you at the pre-sentencing interview?” “No, I just did it over the phone, he told me to tell the truth.” “Okay, so that was the extent of your preparation for the pre-sentence report?” “That’s correct.”
So I told him, I said, “You know what bud, it’s actually stunning you didn’t get higher than 27 months.” I think it was a 24 to 31-month sentence, so he came right in at the middle of the range. And he said, “You know what Justin? I kind of blame you.” I said, “Well that’s ironic, you didn’t hire me.” He’s like, “You should’ve pushed me. You should’ve forced me to hire you. I knew that I needed to do it, but I didn’t because my lawyer told me I didn’t need you. You should have pushed me.”
And I said, “But I don’t do that. That’s not my job. My job is to weigh the pros and cons or express the benefits to you, and you determine if it’s best for you and your family.”
Now, horrific people say bad things about me online, competitors that I’m suing. In fact, I’m writing a third book, halfway through, that gets into many of these details and people that want to hurt me and my family and take us down. I’ll have the evidence from the courts to document everything that I say. But some of those people say that I’m an aggressive salesman, or I say one thing and do another. I’m not aggressive, I can assure you of that. And this client or prospect was saying to me you should have pushed me, you should have pushed me. That’s not what I do. You’ve got to make a decision and use your judgment.
He did not use his judgment when the lawyer said, “You don’t need a consultant.” His judgment told him otherwise, but he did not act. So, now that he was sentenced to 27 months, he wants to prepare properly for prison. I don’t know if he can get into the substance abuse program, there is no guarantee despite what others may tell you about the drug program. He didn’t properly document it in his PSR report, and the criminal justice system deals with the past. We cannot change the past.
So, there are many uncertainties as he prepares for federal prison, but he wanted me to share this story with all of you, so you’ll learn from him, or profit from his experience. If you want to get a shorter federal prison sentence perhap you will take action.
So you can use your judgment, despite what others may tell you to try to get a shorter federal prison sentence. So, let’s come to you for a moment, how we can learn from my new client, who’s going to be surrendering to federal prison in September.
Did you see the tobacco hearings many years ago where the CEO’s of the tobacco companies were in front of the Senate, and the senators asked these CEO’s if they thought tobacco was addictive, and they all said no? Further, if the CEO was Mcdonalds was testifying, or if you asked the CEO of Mcdonalds or Burger King if eating cheeseburgers was bad, do you think they’d say no? Well, they may give you an answer that is exactly what you may want to hear. No, I don’t think it’s bad for you in moderation. But, their interest is for you to buy cigarettes. Their interest is for you to buy cheeseburgers.
So, when this lawyer heard that a consultant may come on board to prepare a client for a PSR, or to help write a narrative, or properly mitigate a sentence. And this defendant was asking the lawyer for advice, much like it was in the tobacco CEO’s interest to say, “No, tobacco is not addictive,” it was in the lawyer’s interest to say, “You don’t need a consultant.” Why? Because any good consultant would immediately step in and hold that lawyer accountable. Would immediately step in and say, “I’m not a lawyer, I don’t dispense legal advice.”
But I think Judge Bough and Judge Bennet, judges with whom we have interviewed, have said the majority of the work needs to come from a defendant at sentencing. And while we’re not lawyers, it’s easy to see there isn’t a whole lot of litigation going on, so we suggest this, the narrative. We suggest volunteering. I’m speaking at ethics classes at USC, I’m going to film our client and show the story as a cautionary tale, like many other of my clients have done. And a myriad of other mitigating factors. We’re going to hold you accountable. And we’re going to ask tough questions.
Can you see how in some cases when a lawyer doesn’t properly prepare a defendant, it’s not in their interest to say, “Yes, go hire a federal prison consultant. That sounds great Mr. Client, create more work for me, ensure that I’m going to be held accountable. Yeah, I love that idea. I love it, let’s absolutely do that.”
Many of you watching are not criminals, though you may have pled guilty. All of you want a shorter a federal prison sentence, I know. The majority of you did not have criminal intent. I didn’t have criminal intent when I became a stockbroker. I didn’t wake up and say, “You know, today’s the day I’m going to create victims, ruin my reputation, send myself to prison. Lose my ability to get a license. Today seems like the day, I’m ready. I’m ready to make this the day.”
No person in their right mind does that. So what does that mean? If you don’t have criminal intent, and you haven’t worked with hundreds of lawyers, as we have, how do you know the right questions to ask them? How do you even know if you have a good lawyer? Well, sometimes defendants say to me they have a great lawyer. I say, “Well how do you know? You might have a terrible lawyer, how do you know? How do you know questions to ask them? How do you know how to respond in a Socratic method with the appropriate follow-up?”
Many of you do not–because you are not criminals. So, that’s the take away from this. If you’re considering a consultant, me or someone who you think can help you, if your lawyer is for or against it, frankly, it should not matter. If they’re against it, why? Ask the appropriate questions. And if they had an experience with the consultant, does the lawyer try to play Jailhouse Lawyer? That’s a concern. Does the lawyer offer guarantees, and encourage a defendant to act unethically? That’s a concern. Does the consultant have no idea what the hell he’s talking about? That’s a concern.
So, I can understand if a lawyer has valid concerns, but just to immediately default without any due diligence to, “you don’t need a consultant,” when there’s been no preparation, it’s very easy to see why this defendant got 27 months. My new client got 27 months, and I told him, “You’re lucky it wasn’t higher.”
That’s how I’ll close. If our company help you, that would be great. Do your due diligence. Whoever you are going to hire speak to their clients, do a payment plan over a period of time if you retain someone, to make sure they’re accountable in delivering. These are things that we do, irrespective of what competitors say about me. Competitors with whom I will be writing about, and documenting, including court records. These people need to be held accountable. People need to understand the consequences that come from trying to hurt people. People need to understand if you’re going to hire a lawyer, make sure they’re always working in your interests. And that could mean bringing on a consultant to guide and help you. If it’s us, wonderful. If it’s someone else, great.
Ask the right questions, follow up. And I hope someday my client chooses to do a video with us. But if not, he asked me to channel these thoughts to you, in the hope that all of you will prepare, and do better, and ask tough questions. And that’s all I’ve got for today. I wish you all well.
P.S. If you would like to better prepare for your sentencing, schedule a call here.