Friday, March 3, 2017

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The social ramifications of becoming either formally or informally a white collar defendant can be wide ranging. Unlike violent offenders, white collar defendants will very often be members of various boards, donate heavily to charity, do volunteer work and even help their friends. They will very often, with good intentions only, bring on friends as business associates or as partners. They feature prominently in social circles and are often quite visible, especially when they are leaders of industry. Keeping in mind that white collar defendant often do not even realize they are ever doing anything that violates the law, their motives are almost always altruistic and come from a genuine desire to help others.

There is a story told of a wealthy man who served on the board of directors of a prominent organization. For many years his opinions were sought after and the board always heeded his advice. Whenever he spoke, other member were silent and listened attentively. Unfortunately, late in life, this individual made some bad investments and became destitute. While he remained on the board, his opinions were no longer solicited, his advice ignored and when he spoke no one bothered to pay attention. One day he got up an exclaimed "I may have lost my money, but I didn't lose my mind!" 

The same analogy can sadly be applied to white collar defendants. An individual may have given many hours of his time in serving on a non profit board. He may have given millions of dollars toward an organization. However, once he becomes a criminal defendant, those very individuals will abandon him and cast him aside. Suddenly, his opinions do not matter. The years of service that he will have given to that organization will be forgotten. Even worse, the organization, will often go to great lengths to disassociate itself from that individual, All the good that the individual has done will not only be forgotten but will be disavowed. He will have been better off, from a social standpoint never having given of his time at all. Whats worse, some will claim that he used his position of authority and his social status as a platform to deceive others and legitimize himself when nothing is further from the truth. They will say that the money he gave to charity was not done in the name of kindness but was done for the sole purpose of enhancing his stature. Of course, the organization is still all too happy to keep the money they have received over the many years!

The same can be applied for friends and even worse so for friends that a defendant went out of his way to help with no personal gain whatsoever. Before he became a defendant, he was in all likelihood successful in one or in many business ventures. As is normally the case, friends will want to do business with him so that they too can receive the benefits from the proverbial golden goose. They will beg to be in business with him so as to enrich themselves. In truth there is nothing at all wrong with this as everyone is entitled to do whatever they can to accumulate wealth and to provide for their families.

Sadly, when the tide turns these friends are nowhere to be found. When the investigation starts, these former partners and associates will miraculously develop amnesia or will concoct a fictional revisionist history where they were not in business with the defendant at all. They will minimize their role. Whats worse, they will tell others that not only were they not partners, but they were in-fact, victims of their friend's lies and deceptions. All of the kindness given to them will be forgotten in the selfish endeavor to extricate themselves from they view as a dangerous association. The years of friendship will be erased. Sometimes a husband who did not bother to tell his wife about his business association will, in attempt to lessen his sin of not including her in a major decision will simply blame the defendant. Often times, if there was an investment involved, a defendant will have allowed his friends to invest and not take the normal fees to which he is normally entitled. He does this out of kindness only. Unfortunately, in the name of greed, his friend will invest more than he can afford. If he loses the money, he now needs to explain this to his wife. He will simply deflect the blame from himself for his own irresponsible behaviors and turn on his friend.  Whats worse, these "friends" will turn on him and will even speak to federal agents and offer fabricated "alternative facts". An act of kindness toward a friends has been repaid by his becoming a weapon of the prosecution. Families that have developed long lasting friendship will be torn apart because of a lack of appreciation for an intended kindness.

The social stigma surrounding white collar defendants is often unjustified. People are quick to rush to judgment and to abandon associations. It is times like these when the a person's true character is revealed. A defendant should not delude himself into thinking that all of the good he has done over the years will garner the amount of support deserved. Nor will  all of the people he has helped stand by him. Yes, he will have friends who will stand by him but to believe that they all will or even that most will is wishful thinking especially when he was kind enough to bring people into business with him. Sadly, all too often, for white collar defendants, no good deed goes unpunished.

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