7 Lessons I Learned After I Plead Guilty


July 23, 2014

7 Lessons I Learned After I Plead Guilty

Sometimes people mock my brief 18-month sentence. I will acknowledge that 18-months is not a significant term. What many people do not understand, however, is that the 3 1/2 years I spent dealing with my case was in many ways harder than prison. As I wrote in Lessons From Prison, I made a number of poor decisions while working through the system. Rather than look back with regret, I choose to use my experience as an asset to help others. My clients do indeed benefit from my experience, the good and the bad. Part of that experience includes helping them gain a better understanding of the ramifications that follow a guilty plea. Yesterday,  I reflected on some of the valuable lessons I learned after pleading guilty in February 2007. I hope my readers find value in them.

7- Cover up is worse than the crime: My actions following my termination at UBS prolonged my struggle and delayed the healing that should have begun sooner.

6- Legal fees: Not working openly and honestly with council cost me at least an additional 6 figures in legal fees.

5- I’ll never get used to the Department of Justice press releases: Regardless of how hard I work to become better than bad decisions of my past, those DOJ releases will never go away.

4- Not out to get me: Initially, I resented the government and FBI agents for destroying my life. In time, I realized they were simply doing their job and out to protect investors who became victims.

3- Whose coming with me?: I learned who my true friends were.

2- Forgiveness would not just happen by saying, “I’m sorry”: I understood that my apologizes would have to be followed up with a plan and massive amounts of action.

1- I’m an underdog now: I knew that a stigma would follow the felony. To thrive I would have to think and act differently than the majority of the men the system takes in and spits out.

Justin Paperny


5 Signs You’re Failing in Prison


July 18, 2014

5 Signs You’re Failing in Prison

Earlier this week I spoke with a mom who was trying to help her young son prepare for his upcoming surrender to prison. I won’t get into all of the details of our call. I will, however, share some examples of how she would know if her son was failing in prison. I appreciated her openness to my suggestions. Understanding or studying failure can help us correct course. That is why anyone in prison or anyone looking to support someone in prison should be aware of these basics 5 signs.

5- You’re bored: Boredom is arguably the highest value in prison.

4- You spend more time in recreation than preparing for release: Unless you are preparing for a career as a professional softball player upon release, I would be reading, writing and thinking more.

3- You avoid educational programming: Toastmasters had a huge impact on my prison term. Some criticized my participation–they wanted me to play softball.

2- Rip Van Winkle: I’d prepare to avoid making this call, “Hey bud, remember me. I am home from prison. Yes, I have not reached out in 7 years. Can you hire me? I need a job in the halfway house. Probation Officer is on me. You help.”

1- You have anxiety about going home: As I wrote in Lessons From Prison a prisoner would be wise to pay attention to the U Shaped Curve.

Any client of mine of mine could easily recite one of my favorite lines. “Your biggest worry shouldn’t be prison, but what the rest of your life looks like because you have been to prison. With that end thought in mind we can create a plan on the inside that ensures you are preparing for success.”

Justin Paperny

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10 Books That Changed My Life in Prison


July 17, 2014

10 Books That Changed My Life in Prison

Before many of my clients surrender to prison they ask me to contribute to their book list. Some clients have set goals that include reading at least 100 books. It can be done. I estimate that I read more than 100 books during the 388 days I served in prison at Taft Camp. I started many more than that, however. Montaigne suggested that we should start many books but finish few. I agree. If a book did not hold my interest, I put it away. I saw no upside in wasting time just to say I finished another book. Regardless of what books my clients read I suggest they read with a purpose. In other words, the books should help them prepare for the obstacles they will face upon release. I have nothing against Tom Clancy or James Patterson. I am just not sure reading their work is a good idea. You might as well be watching a movie.

The 10 books that changed my life in prison follow (note they are in no particular order):

1- Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

2- Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

3-Inside: Life Behind Bars in America, by Michael Santos

4- The Republic, Plato

5- The Trial of Socrates, by I.F. Stone

6- How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

7- Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

8- The 48 Laws of Power (not allowed in prisons, but it always seems to show up), by Robert Greene

9- Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performance from Everybody Else, by Geoff Calvin

10- The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

I can and have listed up to 70 more for clients who have interest. Thriving through the system required that I become a better communicator. These books for a multitude of reasons helped me do just that.

So for those reading this blog trapped in the system, I ask you: What books are on your list?

Justin Paperny


Residential Drug Abuse Program

July 14, 2014

Residential Drug Abuse Program

Aw, I love this life of transparency! I am convinced this prison consulting industry could use more of it. Much more. To that end, I wanted to post a video I just created with my friend and partner, Walt Pavlo. This video works through some of the pros and cons of RDAP, or Residential Drug Abuse Program.

Some may find it insane that I encourage some clients not to try to qualify for the Residential Drug Abuse Program. Of course, we only make that decision after hours of reflection and conversation. Like any choice in life, including hiring me, one must engage in a simple cost/benefit analysis. Too many prison consultants, I know, offer promises and guarantees to people without fully considering the pros and cons of each action they engage in.

The Residential Drug Abuse Program, of course, has many advantages that I touch on in this video, and discuss at great length through my prison advice consulting services. Besides receiving up to 12-months off your federal prison sentence, and earning up to six-months in the halfway house, you will have opportunities to engage in cognitive development, public speaking, and in so doing better prepare for the obstacles that await your release. Many men who simply sleep their way through the program find they release with a new laundry list of anxieties. To thrive means to develop patience, persistence and to have an insatiable desire to become the best! For the right reasons the Residential Drug Abuse Program can help you get there.

Should you have questions, please call to speak with an Etika Consultant. We love what we do, and we take a great deal of pride in helping others advance through the system with a plan, purpose, and their dignity.

Justin Paperny


July 11, 2014

RDAP or Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program

I understand the irony of writing books on ethics and being a convicted felon. For many the disconnect is startling. Why? It is simply because I served time in prison. Regardless of efforts I may make to become something more than the poor decisions I made at UBS, I am constantly judged by my prison term. I understand it, though.

Rather than complain, I take action. Those long days in federal prison provided an opportunity to better understand how every decision I made related to the rest of my life. Studying failure and my tendencies helped me get back on track. Through those studies I also understood that I had an obligation to live honestly, transparently. There is no other way to overcome the stigma. It is easy, however, to write about honesty and integrity in prison. We are fed, clothed, warehoused–we have practically no responsibilities. All of our needs are met. I understood the test would come upon my release. The pressures to earn my reputation back, earn a living, and more would test my resolve. I had to be ready.

That readiness meant preparing for my career as a consultant. Shortly upon my release from Taft Federal Prison Camp in May 2009, I would be put to the test. Defendants and their families (many of them wrought with anxiety) were coming across the daily blog I wrote from prison. Documenting the journey immediately paid dividends as I had educated white-collar offenders offering to pay me tens of thousands of dollars to help them prepare for their imbroglio through the system. But as quickly as they called I realized how quickly my resolve to live a life of integrity would be tested. I learned through our conversations that other consultants, charlatans if you will, had practically purloined their precious funds after making promises they could never keep. They used words like “guarantee” and said if you do not hire me there is a chance you would not “survive” prison.

It took about 2 seconds to learn that I could wield more power as a consultant than I ever could as a stockbroker or real estate agent. The people who call me are in many cases vulnerable, scared. I get it. I was there. I was them. Consultants, I learned through these calls, were charging up to 20K to write papers that supposedly would guarantee placement in a particular prison or guarantee an “alternative sentence” like home confinement or half way house. Additionally, many would guarantee one’s acceptance in RDAP or Residential Drug Abuse Program. In 1994, Congress granted the Bureau of Prisons to give up to a one-year reduction of a prisoner’s sentence, and authorize 6-months in the halfway house or home confinement. This provision was for non-violent prisoners who successfully completed a 500 hour Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program. RDAP is the only program that provides for early reduction. It does not take a genius to realize the program is heavily sought after.

In future blogs and videos I will continue to write and talk extensively about alternative sentencing strategies, prison placement and RDAP. That work will not include the word “guarantee”. In my career as a consultant I have walked away from tens of thousands of dollars because I would not–as others do–exploit or leverage off someone’s vulnerability. As I wrote in Ethics in Motion, my integrity no longer comes with a price. Many of my clients, of course, have benefitted from alternative sentencing, RDAP, and so on. That success, however, stemmed from having a plan rooted in transparency, honesty and reality.

The prison consulting industry has a sordid reputation. Through my work I will continue to change that perception. I will continue to thrive by helping my clients create a plan that is realistic. I will help them define their purpose, then take immediate action to implement. As I remind every prospect before they hire me, “wishing or hoping is not a strategy. And hearing me lay out the blueprint or strategy is not enough. This only works when you implement the strategies and put them to work. Writing a check is not enough. Do not hire me if you are not ready to work”. Such an approach, I have learned, engenders trust, it holds each of us accountable, and it sets expectations. It is the reasons many of my clients have turned out to be very good friends.

Justin Paperny



Terminal Island


July 8, 2014

The majority of my clients surrender to federal prison camps, however, some do go to low-security prisons. A good friend and client is serving time at Terminal Island, a low-security facility in Southern California. Through our communication I was intrigued at the many differences between the lows and camps. Additionally, I valued learning the differences between Terminal Island and other low facilities. One such example at Terminal Island is controlled movements. Other lows do not have controlled movements, but Terminal Island does. For purposes of this blog on Terminal Island I will simply turn it over to the notes my friend shared with me. If anyone has questions regarding Terminal Island, or another low, or camp for that matter, please reach out to me at jp@etikallc.com. JP

Terminal Island:


They let units out one by one based on the cleanliness score you rank each week.

Breakfast 6-7 am.
Lunch: 11-11:45 am
Dinner: 5 -5-45 pm

Food here is generally better than other facilities from what I hear but it is still prison food at the end of the day. When I first got here I lived in the chow hall but I’m not now learning to cook my own food. Its healthier and I know whats in it. Regardless chow food Is not bad. Terminal Island is better than a lot of others prisons, I hear.


K unit and “The Annex” are the only ones with air conditioning.

Units G and F are on the South Yard which has its pros. You travel less back and forth and you have your own dorm style room. You are on the yard which is really nice. You also get a good breeze being almost on the edge of the island.

Other units are open rooms like at Taft Federal Prison Camp with bunk beds.

J and E are old school cells like a real prison with toilets and sinks in them. Some inmates love it some hate it. All a matter of preference.

Shower vary in each unit depending on the unit orderlies. Some are really clean others not so much.


Guards are more or less pretty cool. Like everything else in life you have a few bad apples that like to be difficult but if you follow the rules and keep out of trouble you have nothing to worry about. I was picked on a tiny bit when I first got here but thats normal. I also broker a few rules. For instance once I walked out of my unit in sandals and got yelled at. I hear the guards here are very mellow compared to other places. I even like a few of them.


There are two corrlinks rooms. One on the south yard in the rec room which is nice because you can walk in and out and one on the north yard which isn’t the best because you get locked down if you miss the move. Lots of guys go during lunch and dinner or breakfast so they can walk in and out.

Recreation room:

4 pool tables, TV room with yoga mats, ceramics and arts area with leather goods. Piano room, and guitar checkout, drum room, treadmills, stair master, eliptical machines.


6 laps equals a mile on the track. Basketball court, tables to sit throughout. Weight pile with 3 outdoor TVS. Grass areas to layout and read with flowers, palm trees. Benches overlooking the port.


There is a 10 minute movement every hour of the day. Yard recall at 10:30 am and at 8:30 am when you have to head in. There are 2 standing counts a day. 4 pm and 9:30 pm. On the weekends we also have an additional count at 10 a.m.


Saturday, Sunday, Monday- 1 point per person per hour 40 points per month. Snack machines with decent foods you can microwave. Visiting starts at 8:30 am ends at 3 pm.


Haven’t been inside really but they have a law library, typewriters, paper, and classes you can take.


Huge hospital. You can just walk in Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday for sick line. If its an emergency 24 hours a day on call.


There are various jobs. The best is a cadillac job which is 1 hr a day sweeping, the kitchen is considered the worst but some like it. You also have unicor which pays the most you weld and make lockers. CMS is maintenance like plumbing, electrical, HVAC. Pay is between $5.25/month and $300 on the high side depending on how long you have been down and education level.


Is decent, no vegetables or fruit. You have shredded beef pouches, tuna, and beans. Nothing to brag about but enough to get you by.

let me know if you have any other questions…



Five Months in Federal Prison


January 29, 2014

Five Months in Prison

I became a runner in federal prison. At the top of my goal list prior to my surrender to Taft Federal Prison Camp list was getting back in shape. The prison advice I received prior to my surrender guaranteed me that I would have ample time to exercise and leave physically fit. That advice was spot on!

I mention running because earlier today a friend shared a press release with me about a chiropractor, Dr. Lawrence Herman, who is a marathon runner. In addition to being a marathon runner he is also a convicted felon who will be surrendering to federal prison to serve a five-month prison term.

From the article I read about Mr. Herman, I read that he pleaded guilty to filing false statements related to an auto accident.

My friend who sent me the article asked how Dr. Herman could be so foolish and jeopardize his career. The answer, I told him, was that Dr. Herman didn’t fully understand how one bad decision could influence the rest of his life. It’s that simple. Certainly, Dr. Herman didn’t have fraudulent intentions. He didn’t wake up each morning thinking of ways that he could cheat, steal and take advantage of other people. If you were to ask his patients I bet they would tell you this he is a wonderful doctor. I would bet his conduct was 100% aberrational.

But like many men on the wrong side of prison boundaries he succumbed to the toxic triangle: he felt pressure, he rationalized, and of course he seized an opportunity to cross the line and with that bring lasting pain and shame to his family.

But like me and the throngs of men who choose to work hard in federal prison I know that we can find meaning through this experience and come out stronger.

He’ll have five months in federal prison to reflect and to think about the lessons he’s learned through this experience. Fortunately, as a man who ran thousands of circles around the oval dusty track in federal prison, he’ll have plenty of time to continue to pursue his passion for long distance running. Arguably, that was the best part of federal prison: the time to run around a dusty oval track to think about the decisions that led us to a life of khakis and white T-shirts.

Justin Paperny


Five Basic Things to Know About Blogging From Prison


June 26, 2014

Five Basic Things to Know About Blogging From Prison

As part of my prison advice services I invest many hours with my clients to help them understand the importance of documenting the journey. After they agree to document the journey there are scores of things to review, but some basic steps follow:

1-Never forget that everything you write can be read both by staff and prisoners. Prisoners usually come across the work after a friend or family member sends it to them.

2-Continue to develop new content. As a man who wrote a daily blog from Taft Federal Prison Camp, I can tell you that writing endlessly about your prison routine will get boring. At some point readers will grow tired of hearing what time you woke up or what you had for lunch in the chow hall. Your blog, just like your prison term, should evolve. Don’t be afraid to dive into subjects that are influencing the way you serve time. Your perspectives will change and you may develop a different tolerance for the people with whom you are serving time. Open up, be transparent, bring people in.

3- Don’t worry so much about edits or grammatical structure.  Focus on authenticity and capturing once in a lifetime moments.

4- Own it! Writing about my crime in a blog, paradoxically, brought wonderful results and people back into my support network. Rather than blaming, complaining or rationalizing, I openly displayed my remorse, contrition and the lessons I was learning through my prison adventure.

5- Besides staying productive you will be developing a new skill set: you will be writing more, learning new words, reading more books to develop content, and growing your support network.

For those who have interest in following my prison advice I encourage you to document the journey. If you follow The Five Basic Things to Know About Blogging From Prison, you will be more productive, happier, and you will leave with a greater sense of meaning and purpose. If I did it, so can you!

Justin Paperny


My Journey and Sentencing


June 23, 2014

It pleases me to share this guest blog written by my friend, Richard Bistrong.

My Journey and Sentencing, by Richard Bistrong

First, I want to thank Justin for allowing me to address his community via this guest blog and I am extremely grateful for the reception that I have received with respect to my writings concerning international compliance challenges from the front line of international business (www.richardbistrong.blogspot.com). However, my path to getting to where I can now take such opportunities to share with others, was filled with many ups and downs, and I hope that even those struggles, too, might benefit others. While I remain grateful that the most challenging parts of this experience for myself and my family, including the loss of liberty, remain in the rear view mirror, I always manage to keep an eye on that mirror, as not to forget the path, and ultimately, the humility, which brought me to the place where today I can share my experience with others.

During the many years when I was working in the field of international sales, I was aware that I was engaging in illegal behavior; however, at that time in my life, I wasn’t thinking about getting caught and did not think I would get caught. I was well educated, well paid, and in a very respected position with respect to both compensation and recognition, in my career. So why break the law? Well, as I have shared, and here I again point out, I discuss my conduct not in terms of justification, but in the context of how I “rationalized bribery.” In my case, it was a perfect storm, where a number of factors which impacted my thinking, came together and prevailed, and which I talk about extensively in my presentations and writings.

Getting Caught, Twice

When I did get caught in early 2007 (by my former employer), it was a frightening moment, to say the least. I was alone facing a panel of attorneys and seasoned investigators. Of course, the first consequence that comes to mind in a situation like that is the loss of my job. It didn’t take long to calculate that I would be terminated in the near future, so I started thinking about the financial consequences to my family.

The second “getting caught” point for me was by far more significant. It was at this point that I truly hit bottom and started on my trajectory of rehabilitation, which continues to this day. It started in the Spring of 2007 with a call from the Justice Department to my attorney, Brady Toensing. They said they knew about the investigation by my then, former employer, and they offered to let us come in and Proffer.It is really difficult to articulate the intensity of the Proffer experience. But I realized that, as described by DOJ Attorney Joey Lipton (at my sentencing), this was my “line in the sand.” No matter what happened up until that first Proffer meeting, this was a chance to truly come clean with my misdeeds. For me, the process of cooperating with the government, which started with this first meeting, also allowed me to re-think how I had been living, and to start the healing process with my family and friends.

My proffer initiated a period cooperation with US and UK law enforcement which lasted five years, including almost three years of covert cooperation (one of the longest periods of covert cooperation in Federal Law Enforcement) and two years of preparation for trial testimony and actual testimony, including three calendar weeks of cross-examination. While there has been a great deal of reporting about my cooperation, and the outcome of the cases where I was a cooperator, as I reflect on this period of my life, I am happy to have it in the rear view mirror and to be back with my loved ones and my community. As I will share, it was ultimately Judge Richard Leon (District Judge, DC) who would weigh the value of my cooperation, and he would have sole authority to judge the significance my cooperation against the magnitude of my illegal conduct, which I candidly admitted to in extensive court testimony.

Judge Leon understood the seriousness of my illegal conduct, the value of my cooperation, as well as my personal and professional efforts to contribute to society since the ending of my covert cooperation. When he weighed all of that (including the Justice Department’s 5K1.1 departure recommendation of home confinement), which I think of as the “good, bad and ugly,” he decided that a sentence was still warranted and I remain at peace with his decision. It was at this point, with the pronunciation of an eighteen-month sentence, that Justin Paperny came into my life.

Getting Sentenced: Deer in a Headlight Syndrome

A prison sentence is scary, to an individual, and to a family, for the known and the unknown. I had already retained a “prison consultant,” to assist with pre-sentencing issues, and I continued to use his services, but as I quickly found out, there are prison consultants out there who understand the fear that one is confronted with prior to incarceration, and who take advantage of such anxiety through all kinds of commitments and promises that can not possibly be kept. Unfortunately, by the time you realize it, you are already “locked up,” with no recourse, and most often, with scarce resources. Beware. So, after getting contradictory and conflicting messages from my own “prison consultant,” I stared researching, reading and writing. It was during this process that I intersected with a number of people: Michael Santos, whose blog I started reading prior to sentencing, Justin Paperny, who via social media, I saw was connected to Michael, and Walt Pavlo, whose Forbes blog I had already been following.

These three individuals (Michael was released prior to my own self-surrendering to the Federal Prison Camp at Lewisburg) provided what I would call unselfish, honest and open counsel. They shared with me words of wisdom, not only as to what I might expect, how to prepare, but most importantly, how to strategize mentally for a “plan of action” before walking through the door of the Camp. Thus, with their assistance, I knew what I was going to bring with me when surrendering, even to the point of researching which watch brand was sold at Commissary (it is more likely that you can keep your watch if it is the same brand that the Commissary sells), to what job I was going to seek. In fact, I surrendered on a Friday, and on Monday I had my job as a GED tutor, where I would eventually end up as an English as a Second Language Instructor (ESL). Even my Educational Supervisor said on my last day “you made an impact here and your students will miss you.”

Making a positive impact while serving a sentence is not easy, but Michael, Justin and Walt showed me through their own experiences that it can be done. I literally had my game plan together weeks before I started my sentence, and thanks to the three of them, I served my time with dignity and provided value to others in their educational goals. While most people walk through the doors, as Walt Pavlo shared with me, “experiencing the shock of it all,” I knew how I was going to spend my time, and executed on my plan. Also, thanks to the counsel of Michael and Justin, I prepared my reading list in advance, as I love to read, and ended up completing 64 major hardback books in 62 weeks. Again, listen, plan, execute. I would also add that while I was serving my sentence, Justin assisted my wife, again unselfishly, with questions she had pertaining to my incarceration.

Thus, for those of you who are looking to select a “prison consultant,” please be very meticulous and careful in your research. My consultant, who was certainly helpful on some issues, got many things wrong, from the “slam dunk” of getting me where I wanted to be designated (he didn’t), to how many people were in a cube, when my commissary would renew, and finally, what I should expect in terms of half-way house time. These are all important issues, and a credible consultant is going to be honest in setting expectations as to what he “can and can not do” to help you and your family prepare.

As I conclude, I return to Walt, Justin and Michael, where the best value they provided me was on “getting my game plan” together well before self-surrendering. My attitude when I walked through the door (thanks to their advice, I was there right when “intake” opened, as to allow for a smooth, quick and easy entry) was “OK, lets get started, I have things I want to accomplish while I am here, and I am going to do it.” And, I did. When I walked out the door, alone, as I walked in, it was with a feeling of pride and accomplishment. That is not easy to do while serving a federal sentence, but my thanks again to Justin, Michael and Walt, who demonstrated through their own power of example that it can be done.

When I now look at my future, as I shared with the FCPA Professor in an interview “First and most important is to continue on my path and dedication to healthy living, both personally and professionally. I took a lot for granted in my life, including financial security, the connection of family and friends, as well as my own liberty. I suffered great losses due to my own selfish behavior.

While all that is in the past, I do keep an eye on the rear view mirror as a reminder to never return to those behaviors, and to remember what is important. What I hope to achieve now, is somewhat similar to my goals before I surrendered at the Camp in Lewisburg. How I can contribute my experiences and perspectives to help others in their own challenges.”

Richard Bistrong


Richard Bistrong, FCPA Blogger and Speaker Richard Bistrong spent much of his career as an international sales executive and currently blogs on FCPA issues from that perspective. Richard was the Vice President of International Sales for a large, publicly traded manufacturer of police and military equipment, which included residing and working in the UK. In 2007, as part of a cooperation agreement with the United States Department of Justice and subsequent Immunity from Prosecution in the UK, Richard assisted the United States and other governments in their understanding of how FCPA (foreign bribery) violations occurred and operated in international sales. In 2012, Richard was sentenced as part of his own Plea Agreement, and served fourteen-and-a-half months at a Federal Prison Camp. Richard now blogs at www.richardbistrong.blogspot.com about current anti-bribery compliance issues. Richard can be reached via his blog, his web-site www.richardbistrong.com or at Richardtbistrong@gmail.com. He frequently tweets @richardbistrong Richard is available to speak to about his experience and current compliance challenges, to corporations, industry groups and individuals.