October 8, 2014

Lessons From The World Of White Collar Crime

Yesterday, Justin Paperny asked Me what I had learned from my experience with the Federal Justice System?

Talk about a loaded question! In no particular order, I learned the following:

  1. TALKING: Never talk to anyone about any potential criminal action against you until you have consulted with an attorney. Do not talk to any alleged victims and do not talk to the FBI. Tell the FBI or the IRS you will talk with them after you talk to your Counsel. Remember, no one affiliated with the Government is your friend. They are trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and their job description does not include looking out for your best interests. I talked and it did not enhance the outcome of my case
  2. SELECTING AN ATTORNEY: Selecting an attorney is critical to the outcome of your case. The biggest name, the most expensive option, or your Brother’s friend are not necessarily the right choice! You need an attorney who has experience in your type of crime and who has substantial experience before the Court where your case will be heard. If you have a tax fraud case, you need someone who has handled this type of case in the past! There are publications that can point you in the right direction if you do not have a credible contact within the local legal community to assist you. Find a copy of the “Best lawyers in America ” or your state’s version of “Super Lawyers” . Do not be afraid to ask your Lawyer about his experience as it relates to your type of case. My first Lawyer had a poor working relationship with the Government attorney handling my case. This did not lead to a quick resolution of the matter:
  3. THE WHOLE TRUTH: You need to tell your Lawyer everything, including all of the gory details. This is important for several reasons. First, your Lawyer needs to know everything so He can properly respond to the Government regarding your case. The whole truth will enable your lawyer to prepare a strategy to defend the case or negotiate the best plea agreement( 93% of cases involve a plea). Factual Surprises down the road compromise your credibility and the credibility of your attorney. I did not reveal to my attorney the full scope of my fraudulent activities during our initial meetings. This adversely affected the outcome of my case:
  4. THE WHOLE TRUTH, PART TWO!: If the time comes for you to sit down with the Government and discuss your case, telling the whole truth is imperative. If you attempt to mislead the Government, additional charges may be filed against you for Obstruction of Justice and/or perjury. A classic example of this is the well known case of Martha Stewart. Everyone thinks Martha Stewart was convicted of insider trading which is untrue. Martha was convicted of obstructing justice because she lied to the Government about facts related to her case. Most legal experts agree that the Government would have never been able to prove it’s insider trading case! If Martha Stewart had told the truth, or simply refused to talk to the Government,  She would have never seen the inside of a Federal Prison Camp!
  5. MULTIPLE DEFENDANTS: If you have Co-Defendants in your case, you can rest assured that one of them is racing to the Assistant United States Attorney’s Office to try and cut a deal. The Defendant who wins the race is usually granted leniency and a reduced sentence. The remaining Defendants are left holding the bag and are subjected to longer sentences. We are now discussing the ugly word “snitch” ! During the first meeting my attorney had with the Government they asked him if I had information about anyone who helped me commit my fraud. If I did, it would result in a better plea deal! Since I had no Co-conspirators, I did not have to face the moral and ethical dilemma about deciding whether or not to be a “snitch” with reference to a co-defendant! If you have co-defendants, you will have to address this issue with your attorney! The Government relies upon “Snitches” to maintain its incredibly high conviction rate.
  6. WHAT ATTORNEYS DO NOT DO!: Your attorney is paid to protect your legal interests. His services terminate after sentencing unless you will be filing an appeal. He is not paid to be your Mental Health Care Professional. He is not paid to be your prison consultant. When I resigned from my law firm and my fraudulent activities were coming to light, I was panicking and nearly incapacitated by my guilt, fear, and remorse. My attorney directed me to a health care professional who spent many hours getting me to the point where I could function on a day to day basis and deal with the incredible mess I created. In addition, I knew from day one that I would be sentenced to some term of incarceration. I started reading stories on the Internet about Federal Prison Camp which only raised my level of anxiety. I finally found Justin Paperny, who was able to give me a real explanation of Prison Camp Life. Justin also helped me develop a plan to use my time in Prison Camp wisely to enhance my ability to reenter the real world with a job and an opportunity to live a “normal life”! Your attorney is not going to take care of your mental health issues or your life in or after Federal Prison Camp.
  7. WASTED TIME, PRISON BEFORE PRISON:My case took approximately 16 months from the discovery of my misdeeds till my reporting date to Federal Prison Camp. Many cases take much longer to complete, especially if the Defendant is disputing the charges. Remember, the Federal Government does not file cases unless they have a very solid case! ( 98% conviction rate!) I can honestly say that I have spent the last 16 months of my life living in fear and limbo! I was in my own personal prison but not getting any credit for the “time” served. I am sure Federal Prison Camp will not be a pleasant experience (rightfully so), but at least I will be repaying my debt to society and moving toward a post prison life. When you are thinking about delaying the resolution of your case, remember the personal prison time you are serving that you are not receiving any credit for!

To Be Continued!

Ken Flaska

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