My Deal With The Devil

June 12, 2015
My Deal With The Devil
As a consequence of my time in prison I came to embrace the cliché that life is about the journey. That time away from family, friends and my community helped me realize that I had a role to play in society.
Admittedly, before surrendering to prison things always seemed to be about me—my case, the financial losses, the damn lawyers asking for more money, the anger I felt over reading the DOJ’s press release and more.

In prison, I realized I had a responsibility to do better. It was not easy. To begin, I had to begin to undue years of making bad decisions. I would love to say the transformation was easy, but it was not.

Where did I start?

I learned to do my own thing. In prison, while writing blogs, then my book, guards and other inmates mocked me. “Ain’t no one going to care what some money manager got to say about ethics or prison,” the guard said to me. Almost as bad were many of the white-collar offenders who sought to diminish my efforts, while urging me to quit. Those men now call me looking for work.

After I began doing my own thing, I began waking early, while the dorm slept. I read books, wrote blogs, wrote my network (no e-mail yet in prison), taught classes, and began telling my story. In prison, I worked about 18 hours a day to prepare for the obstacles that awaited me, or any felon for that matter.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am sharing this with you?

My only regret while traversing the system was not starting sooner. As a result of living for so long like the proverbial ostrich with my head buried in the sand, I had to work twice as hard once I got to prison. Before surrendering I destroyed my network, spent all of my money, and hurt those that loved and supported me.

Many of you reading this blog have spoken with me. Others have followed my work for a while. Some of you are competitors who opt into my work to both learn from it and plagiarize it.

For those trapped in the system, I write this for you. Do not delay. A prospect told me earlier today that he would begin building his reputation once his lawyers negotiated the plea. Can I translate that for you? Okay, thank you. It means he will never begin. It is akin to the guys in prison who wasted five years of their prison term but loved to say they will begin preparing—and exercising—when they have six months to the house (halfway house for those who like the prison parlance).

It is hard for me to judge this gentleman, however, because I was him. I was the person I spoke with yesterday who couldn’t’ make a decision without her lawyer’s opinion. The problem is the lawyer hasn’t called her back for weeks. I was the person I met with in Beverly Hills over the weekend who knows that he should begin preparing for the PSI and that he should engage in some volunteer work, but is too paralyzed to act.

I regret nearly all of the decisions I made between January 11, 2005 the day UBS fired me for facilitating a fraud and April 28, 2008, the day I surrendered to prison. That time was harder than prison. I would love a do over.

The image I attach in this email is of a character that plays me in a documentary titled My Deal With The Devil that airs this Saturday. It was hard to film, to open up about the decisions I made as a younger man.  I agreed to do the film with NBC and Esquire because I still feel I have an obligation to give back, to carry that torch that I lit in prison.

To my clients reading this who are taking action, I admire you. You work on tasks each day that seemed to hard or daunting for me when I was in your shoes. To those wavering, take action. To those who cannot make a decision without that lawyer that famously gives them the blow off, take action and demand accountability. Lets not forget who works for who!

To close, I know that many reading this should not be prosecuted. As a taxpayer some of the prosecutions sicken me. America remains drunk on incarceration. But regardless of the motives of some (not all, but some) unethical prosecutors, you must prepare.

What can you do?

  • Write that narrative.
  • Learn to tell your story. What pressures, motivations and opportunities drove you?
  • Write out a list of people in your network, then call each one. I would not wait for the phone to ring.
  • Write a book list, and order the first 10, and then read them. In fact, email me the title of one of the books and I will order one for you now and in prison.
  • Inquire into some volunteer work in your community.
  • Go on job interviews and own your mistakes. You need practice telling your story.

And lastly: THINK BIG

I honeymooned in Italy and while studying Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel, I was thrust back to a quote of his that I read in prison. Namely, “the problem with goals is that we do not set them too big, but too small”

Despite this episode, life can eventually become better than ever. You will develop a different perspective and appreciation for what matters. And if done well this experience for you, as it was for me, will be but a blip in your life.

For those who will soon cross over into the wrong side of prison boundaries, I offer three reminders:

  1. Do your own thing, and do not become beholden to anyone.
  2. Access daily whether the tasks you are working on will translate to the obstacles you will certainly face upon release.
  3. What steps are you taking today to prove worthy of the love and support your network continues to offer you?

For those who wish to watch the show Saturday, I attach a link.




Who needs a criminal defense attorney?


June 4, 2015

Who needs a criminal defense attorney?

While reading the New York Post this morning I read about some people in my community were who indicted for securities fraud. In fact, some of these guys are literally in my backyard. Steven Fishoff, Paul Petrello, Ronald Chernin, and Steven Costanin were charged with  ripping off unidentified bankers to the tune of $3.2 million dollars. I have seen these types of releases so many times I won’t get more into the case. If you have interest read the article.

My point in writing this short piece is to tell these gentlemen that the steps they take today will heavily influence their outcome. In fact, I am sure that as I write this at least one of them is taking action, lawyering up and cutting a deal. Others are living in “la la land” telling friends and family this morning that they did nothing wrong, and that the government has totally overreached. I suspect I know how this will end. The length of their prison terms will be influenced by each decision they make today. For the sake of their families, I hope they all act wisely. That is the best prison advice I can give today. This process is always harder on those that love and support us.

I presume these guys are looking for quality lawyers. To help them, I created a series of questions they should pose to any lawyer they interview. I should note we have posed these same questions to lawyers who will be joining, Etika Connect, our specialized 250 lawyer directory. This directory will feature only 250 lawyers across the whole country. Unlike Avvo or Martindale, or other legal directories, that features every lawyer, we are inviting lawyers who fit our criteria. In Los Angeles, for example, we plan to add less than 10 lawyers. That way when the thousands of people who visit our sites every month need help, they will see their options. We will have vetted the best.


Since these guys are in LA, I suggest they interview Alan Eisner, Mark Werksman, Joel Athey (my criminal lawyer), and David Willingham (a former U.S. Attorney who arrested yours truly). These guys are smart, have tons of experience, and as important, they are not so damn desensitized to this process. I can assure you Alan, Mark, Joel and David can easily answer the questions below.


  1. Please describe your typical caseload?
  2. What provisions do you have in place for vacations or if you suddenly become saturated with other cases?
  3. Describe an example of misconduct you have experienced by legal counsel that has opposed you:
  4. Do you have references I can check?
  5. How much experience do you have in federal court?
  6. Do you charge hourly or is the fee inclusive?
  7. Who would be the primary contact for our clients if it isn’t you?
  8. Please describe your team:
  9. What would the interface be like and how would they typically communicate with the client: Phone/Email/Text/In-person? All of the above
  10. Describe the typical relationship you have with the majority of your clients after sentencing:
  11. Do you remain available to a client’s spouse to help clean up remaining issues if your clients go to prison?
  12. Describe your typical payment schedule:
  13. Have you ever had any ethical complaints or state bar issues?
  14. What do you consider is a reasonable amount of time to be prepared ahead of an arraignment or sentencing hearing?
  15. How do you typically brief your clients with updates on the timeline as you perceive it?

Justin Paperny

White-Collar Crime

The phrase Stop Doing What Doesn't Work on a paper note pinned to a cork notice board.

May 24, 2015

White-Collar Crime

“But your journey was easier.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked this former physician and white-collar offender who continues to struggle since his release from prison.

At least 20% of the people who reach out to me have been released from prison. Many are still angry over their case, the white-collar lawyer they hired, the injustices done them and more. Their rage and action less prison term, they are learning, has consequences. This caller attempted to take his frustration out on me.

Rather than bitch at me, I told him, perhaps it was time to begin taking more aggressive action. It is never too late to start.

“Whatever,” I felt like I was having a conversation with a three-year old.

“You think my journey was easier because you see books, blogs, a thriving career and a network who has a vested interest in my success. You discount my efforts and impugn my character as a way to make your self feel better. How is that approach working? I presume I am not the only one whose efforts you discount and chalk up to good luck. Walk me through your last week, month, and year. What steps have you taken to position yourself for a better future?”

“Who are you Anthony Robbins, the motivational guru?” he asked.

“No, nothing I do is motivational. In fact, I have turned down paid speaking events when they insisted I be the “motivational speaker.” I served a year in camp. Throughout history people have endured 10 million times more than I have ever endured. I had it easy, still do, relative to most people who have ever endured struggle. If prison turns out to be the greatest struggle of my lifetime I will have hit the jackpot! What I do is help people overcome the myriad consequences of their crime. Simple! I engineered a blueprint others can learn from. Some follow it, then lead more productive lives. Some do not.”

“How much?”, he was more interested now.

“Could be free, it could be $20,000. Not sure. Frankly, we are not ready to talk money. Even if you made the investment I am not sure you are ready to act. For this to work, and to get a better idea I direct you to Chapter 6 of Ethics in Motion, you will need to implement a few small things to your daily routine. If you can do that, we can discuss working together longer term.”

“Fine.” he said.


The phrase Stop Doing What Doesn't Work on a paper note pinned to a cork notice board.

My first small thing was not giving prison advice or working as a prison consultant or writing books about white-collar crime, but rather a walk around the track with my friend Michael Santos at Taft Federal Prison Camp. On that walk, much like I did with this Doctor, he suggested I implement a few small daily things to get on track. Slowly, incrementally, as Aesop’s fable Tortoise and The Hare teaches, I improved. Most important, I came to find great value in the journey along with the pain and frustration that accompanies it. If I do my job well, this gentlemen will take some small steps, hire me, then embark on a plan to continue to become better, stronger and more capable. No, that is not a motivational message, but rather a message of personal responsibility.

For some perspective, I attach a video that includes my first blog, along with some info on a new white-collar crime directory I created.

Justin Paperny

P.S. I am getting some emails asking about our sentencing calculator that tells the best day to surrender to get up to an extra 6 days off your prison term. The calculator is $99 dollars and will be for sale in early June.

Prison Advice

May 16, 2015

A gentlemen called me this morning after googling “life in federal prison.” He also told me that he googled, “prison advice”, “white-collar crime”, and “the residential drug abuse program.” Through his searches he told me that he came across an ABC interview I did in January that discussed the sentencing and likely prison term of former Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell. If I recall correctly, I believe something ran on TV, but I did not know a YouTube video also existed. This gentlemen who called me told me that he appreciated and valued my comments about how Governor McDonnell, or anyone for that matter, could spend time in prison.

I am thankful this gentlemen told me about this video. Based on the comments I made in this video, and of course our call today, we have agreed to work together for the next three weeks as he prepares for his surrender to the prison camp in Sheridan, Oregon. We will also do some RDAP, or residential drug abuse program, planning with my buddy and colleague, Seth Ferranti. Seth’s journey is an incredible one that one day will be a movie. For those who wish to learn more about Seth visit

Anyways, for those that have interest I attach the YouTube video titled, “Convicted Former Virginia Governor Gets Prison Tips”


Prison Advice with Lions of Liberty

May 14, 2015

Prison Advice with Lions of Liberty

For those that have interest in listening to my thoughts on preparing for success from prison and prison reform, I attach a podcast video I filmed with Lions of Liberty. I met the folks at Lions of Liberty, and specifically, Marc Clair through my colleague Michael Santos. I appreciated the opportunity to contribute, and I hope listeners find value in the podcast.

Justin Paperny

Do’s and Don’ts Behind Bars

May 9, 2015

Do’s and Don’ts Behind Bars

As my clients would tell you, I loathe the “me” marketing. You know the, “I have been here and done that.” Just hate it. If anything I have shortened my bio each year to remove the “me” marketing approach. I hope the body of work I am creating stands on its own without my having to push it constantly. Occasionally, however, I must present credentials and testimonials to confirm my ability to help. With that disclosure out of the way, I attach a short piece that CNBC ran that included my work. The video was pulled from the show White-Collar Convicts. In this portion of the interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, I was explaining some of the do’s and don’ts of living in federal prison. For those preparing for prison and who wish to make the journey more productive, this short video might be of interest to you.

Justin Paperny

P.S. – A quick call out to my friend and client, Mark Land, who was released from Terre Haute Federal Prison Camp this week. Mark had an incredibly productive term, and followed through on each of the commitments he laid out. I look forward to working with him in the future.



April 28, 2015


Seven-years ago today I surrendered to Taft Federal Prison Camp.  Admittedly, even after my surrender I still had an air of arrogance, of entitlement. Prison changed me for the better! Rather than continue to complain, however, in time I developed a sense of perspective and gratitude for the love my support network offered me and for the opportunities that awaited me. Some of those opportunities were bigger than others. I did not step right into a speaking career and in front of audiences that approached 5,000 people.   Nor did I have a full list of prison consulting clients I was helping prepare for their own battle with the criminal justice system.  No, I released from prison to a job in a real estate office picking up phones, sending faxes and doing some social media work–all of it for a modest wage.

That first job out of prison was part of the journey. I welcomed the chance to work, to demonstrate to my probation officer that I was accountable, and to my community and family that I recognized I was starting over. To that end, it is not uncommon for some people in prison to think some work is beneath them. In Lessons From Prison, I share a story about a friend who made fun of a fellow prisoner for securing a job at McDonalds upon his release. Rather than laud him for working, he criticized him for taking a job that he felt was beneath him. Such is the mindset for some prisoners–it is part of the reason so many fail, then call me and say, “Hey, no one wants to hire and pay me for the skill set I really have. What up, dude.” What up is they do not see the longer term vision, of recognizing that where we are and what we do today will influence our life–good or bad–tomorrow. I got that. Some do not.

I filmed a short video about an educated offender and client who is driving for Uber. Yes, driving for Uber is beneath his skill set. Still, he understands it is part of the journey and working right now is essential to his health and financial future. If you have interest in watching and learning from those who will succeed, I attach the video…

CNBC, NBC and Lifetime

April 16, 2015

CNBC, NBC and Lifetime

Unlike some of the fine men with whom I served time, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not believe the Department of Justice wakes with the goal of throwing every citizen in prison. Now, for clarity, I do believe we lock up too many people. I believe many criminal cases should be handled civilly, and that the government needlessly punishes with respect to the lengths of sentencing and the way they portray convicted white-collar offenders on the internet (amongst myriad other things). As I often tell my clients, when I was a stockbroker I was out to raise money, perform for my clients, and advance my career. Prosecutors are no different. Rather than trying to outperform the S&P 500, however, they prosecute us, secure lengthy prison terms and do it all under the guise of justice. In so doing, they advance their own interests. Then when they become defense attorneys these former prosecutors leverage off their career while working in the government. Indeed, they are deliberate, smart, calculated. Why aren’t more defendants?

When I read some of the releases the government puts out, I get nauseous. Many of them are written about my clients. Much of what they write is true, but much of it is spun to fit their narrative. I can willingly accept responsibility for the crimes I committed–and do–but that does not mean I have to agree with every piece of literature written about me. Much like I was out to paint a rosy picture of my services as a stockbroker, these press releases aim to convey a one sided message. It does no good to complain about it. Those that succeed embrace the reality, establish a timeline to overcome their ruined reputation, then reverse engineer their way to success. In other words, if I want to do “fill in the blank” in 3 years, I must do “fill in the blank” tomorrow.

To combat my press release, I took calculated, deliberate actions. To begin, I began writing openly and honestly about my culpability in the offense, what I was learning, and wrote out step-by-step how I intended to make investors turned victims whole. Then, I asked my readers or viewers to hold me accountable. As I wrote in the epilogue of Lessons From Prison, “If I said I was going to do something, I did it.” Now, some prisoners called me crazy for writing openly about the Ponzi Scheme I facilitated. Even some family members begged me not to use the words “Ponzi Scheme” because I would always be affiliated with Bernie Madoff.

I succeeded because I began to think differently. Rather than live in the shadows or cower in the face of adversity, I wanted to respond from a position of strength and take back control of my life. It was not easy. It’s more than writing a check to a lawyer. It is more than asking people to write character reference letters. It’s speaking openly and honestly about your crimes, why you did it, and how you will make amends.

I have had success conveying this message through television. On April 29, 2015, CNBC will air an interview I filmed with Andrew Ross Sorkin. In June, NBC will air a 60-minute documentary on my story–in my words. I have earned the right to tell my story and the data and record I have created since crossing into the wrong side of prison boundaries gives me authority to tell it my way–I pass all checks or due diligence requests.

Recently, I began working with Lifetime to film some clients who are on their way to prison. Some of the events I did before surrendering to prison and after prison were for free. This one, however, will pay each participant handsomely. Ten-thousand dollars to be exact for all participants who agree to be filmed before their surrender to prison. It is not for everyone and to be clear not everyone would qualify. Showing honest remorse and contrition are two requisites. If you do not quality, please do not reach out to me.

Imagine getting a chance to document to the world how you will emerge stronger, make your family proud, and get paid $10,000 in the process. If that is not a win-win I am not sure what is. Unlike American Greed or others that seek to filet the white-collar offender, I agreed to help Lifetime because they convey a different message. Rather than embarrass, then seek to humanize, to show what accepting responsibility looks like, and allow us to get on record how we will overcome the trauma that accompanies imprisonment.

If any of my readers have interest in participating in this event with Lifetime–and with it taking back the narrative–reach out to me at [email protected] or 818-424-2220.

Be deliberate like me, calculated and take back the narrative. With it, you will begin to take back control of your life.


Prison Sounds and Worries

Prison Sounds and Worries

5:45 am, April 3, 2015, jesup, GA. I woke up at 5:15 am this morning because my cellie’s “snore reduction machine” is making a high pitched howling sound and I cannot go back to sleep. I listen too the early morning sounds of prison that echo through our unit. Besides the high pitched howl of the machine, I hear toilets flushing, microwaves beeping, plastic mop buckets being dragged across the floor, guys yelling in the stairwell, alarm clocks ringing, P.A. System announcements, Guys passing gas, Guys spiting in sinks, Guys blowing their noses, and the occasional banging of a metal locker. Suddenly, the correction officer walks in and announces stand up fog count (an extra count of prisoners as a result of foggy weather). Everyone leaps out of bed and stands by their bunks to be counted. Oh well, my day has started. Today is my Son’s birthday. I made him a card but did not mail it because I did not want to embarrass him at school with mail that has a prison return address.

( prisoner mail must show your prison I.D. number and the name of the correctional institution ). I am going to call him later today and wish him a happy birthday. We will talk about Spartan final four basketball and Red Wing hockey. I am proud of him. He has taken dramatic blows over the past several years (his brothers death and my crime) and He has bounced back. He is doing well in school and has graciously accepted the severe consequences caused by the sins of his father.

Prison-crazy morning sounds you could never imagine at home!

Prison-where your return address prevents you from saying what you really want to say!

Ken Flaska

p.s. Happy Birthday Son!

Are you getting sentenced to prison?

March 26, 2015

Are you getting sentenced to prison?

Much of my attention has been directed towards completing the new Federal Prison Advice membership site. I have been writing, filming videos I could never share on YouTube, and recording podcasts that will provide value to our members. I’m excited to be able to reach and impact more people.

The membership will be available for a one time registration fee of $497, then after 90 days the cost will be $19.95 a month. That modest monthly fee will allow me to continue to coach members, provide guidance through our weekly office hours, our webinars, and it will help offset the massive amounts of new member content we will be adding monthly. This is not some static site, but rather a site that will continue to evolve with content designed to cover all aspects of the system, including essential tools for post-prison life. For that reason, family members are welcome to participate, engage and learn. In sum, I created a program my family and I needed when I read:

Justin Paperny V The United States of America

An additional benefit to the membership program, is a sentencing tool that helps prisoners get an extra 1-6 days off their sentence (yes, I know it is not the game changer of the century, but time is time!). Note, this tool only works if you can pick your surrender date (as I did), or go in at a different time after you received a date. It is possible to rearrange your surrender date with some planning.

This tool also gives you the ability to try to pick your prison because you will see the space available relative to capacity. If you have interest in getting a few extra days off and trying to ensure you get the best institution before you surrender to prison, watch this video to learn how. This sentencing tool will be available separately, and also part of the larger Blueprint Training program I created.