About Me

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Welcome to my blog. For those of you who do not know, I, Michael Szafranski, was recently released from the Federal Prison Camp in Miami, Florida where I spent 11 months. It took six years from the time that I knew I was under investigation to the day I reported to prison. In many ways those six years were worse than the 11 months I actually sat. This blog is going to deal with many of the issues facing people like myself who are just trying to navigate the legal system when they find out they are in trouble and are thrown into the crazy world that is our criminal justice system. My case was kind of high profile so I dealt with it all. I am sharing what I learned so that others will be a little more prepared as to how to deal with various situations and to hopefully shed a little bit of light on what really goes on in the system. Please email me with any questions and if you would like to utilize my consulting services. Appreciate any comments and critiques! Follow along as I publish my book at https://www.wattpad.com/user/whitecollarguru. Email me at mike@whitecollarguru.com with any questions.

Monday, August 28, 2017

THIS TOO SHALL PASS (both the bad and the good)

This too shall pass. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me during my seven year odyssey through all the  facets of the criminal justice system, it would have covered my settlement with the bankruptcy trustee! Well not quite but close. Whenever anyone wanted to offer words of support and consolation to me  he would remind that "This too shall pass." In other words, there will be a time when this chapter of your life will finally be over. Of course, none of them know when that will be, but that is another matter. The message is look forward, better times they are a'comin.

Indeed, the most common use of this saying is to remember that these bad times are merely temporary. At least that is what I used to think. One day, as my bunkmate at the camp was changing his shirt, and no I do not make it a habit to ogle other other men as they change (not there's anything wrong with that) I noticed he had a tattoo on his arm with that very saying. Up to that point I really thought this was a translation of a Jewish saying, yet this person  was not jewish; he did however, have a Jewish last name. In any event, I asked him if he got it when his criminal case started so that he can focus on the future. After I reassured him that he was not bunking with a homosexual who had a  crush on him, he told me that this was in-fact not the case at all. He told me that he got the tattoo when his daughter was born to remind him to treasure every moment with her as she grows up.  Kids, he reminded me, often grow up way to fast. That brief conversation altered by entire way of thinking and offers a poignant lesson for anyone in the midst of a prolonged criminal investigation or any challenge for that matter.

They key challenge for any defendant is balancing the need to be a responsible parent and enjoying life while at the same time being able to focus on the case. To sacrifice family time can be as damaging if not more damaging than not focusing on the case. Irreparable damage can be done by being an irresponsible parent, and there are no do-overs. On the other hand if one does not focus on his case, it may or may not have a meaningful influence on its outcome, but at least he will have strong family support when the legal troubles come to an end

When my case broke, my eldest had just started 1st grade, my second child was in pre-k and my youngest was not to be born for another three months. When my prison term concluded, my eldest was graduating 8th grade, my second was finishing 6th grade and my youngest was finishing 1st grade. Taken another way, my youngest, who was not yet born when my trials and tribulations began, was older than my oldest was at that time! My oldest's entire elementary and junior high school time could have been defined by by protracted battle with the federal government. The same can be said for my middle child's elementary school years.  Now factor in that I spent (only) 11 months in actual prison out of this seven and a half year struggle.

I would never have been able to forgive myself if I would have not enjoyed those years with my children as my case ebbed and flowed. Those are years that a parent can never get back. Even now, as my oldest child starts her high school career, I wonder where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday she was learning how to crawl, and in the blink of an eye she is all grown up. There are no time machines and there are no do overs. We get one chance and once chance only to raise each child and if we miss it thats it. While it is tragic to be an absent parent if someone is incarcerated, it is infinitely worse to be a physically present but emotionally absent parent. A child can forgive a parent for being in prison and he perceives it as a circumstance beyond control but an emotionally absent parent will never be able to repair that relationship; never to be able to make up for the lost time. While I put forth a great deal of effort not to have the joy of watching my children grow up be negatively impacted by my legal issues, I nevertheless have regrets that I did not enjoy the experience as much as I could have. And those are times I can never get back.

Criminal cases are time consuming and they are emotionally draining. While it may be difficult, someone who unfortunately finds himself in such a situation needs to compartmentalize so that his legal troubles don't infiltrate the rest of his life. While a mistake that leads to incarcerations can be left in the past, the mistake made by not enjoying all of life's blessings such as a wife and such as children is a mistake that will last forever. Be it life's blessings or life's challenges, the same truism applies: This Too Shall Pass.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Is it OK for a citizen of the United States of America to hate the United States of America? Does it matter if the basis of your hatred is that you do not like the President? Does it matter if your hatred is based on a belief that it is unfairly difficult some people to realize the "American Dream" while others have a perceived advantage. And finally, is it OK to hate the USA because of a belief that you are being targeted by the justice system? Does it matter if you are guilty or innocent?

Anyone who has been through the justice system, whether or not he has been incarcerated, has certainly wrestled with this question. There are times, when one feels unfairly targeted that there is nothing but blind hatred for a system that is at best biased The potential for hatred is only amplified, when faced with the reality that "innocent until proven guilty" has little application in the reality that is the current justice system. (http://www.whitecollarguru.com/2017/01/innocent-until-proven-guilty-or-guilty.html)

The potential for hatred, is even greater for someone who is forced to spend time incarcerated, especially upon realizing that prison rates in the USA are the world's highest at 724 per 100,000. Even Russia has a lower rate at 581 per 100,00 and the average is around 145 per 100,000. For an inmate at a prison it is very easy to develop a hatred for this country especially when he feels he has been unjustifiably incarcerated or received a sentence that is unnecessarily harsh compared to the crime committed. Even for the recently released, the obstacles can seem unfairly insurmountable. The stigma of being an ex felon never goes away and some rights are never restored.  Yes, it would seem that the justification for hatred exists.

Or does it? I remember, shortly before my release, I watched Colin Kaepernick register his protest of police brutality by refusing to stand for the the national anthem. I remember how many players, including some member of my beloved Miami Dolphins followed his example. I also remember how disgusted I was by this ridiculous display of protest. Colin Kaepernick earned a salary of over $14 million for the 2016 season. If there is anyone who should be grateful to this country it is him; and yet he kneels for the anthem? Where else in the world would he be able to reach such heights. Yes, he was protesting police brutality and support for Black Lives Matter, but one flaw, even if it is systematic does not negate all that his country has done for him. When Kapernick visited Miami last year he wore a t-shirt glorifying Fidel Castro; exemplifying hypocrisy at its best by supporting one of the greatest oppressors of freedom of our time. The examples are numerous. Dennis Rodman goes to visit North Korea. Alec Balwin is regularly threatening to leave the country. They seem to hate their country don't they? By the way, have any of them left?

When reading and watching current events, a realization comes into focus: the world is a very turbulent place. Venezuela has essentially dropped any pretense of being a democracy. The Middle East is in perpetual chaos. North Korea regularly sends prisoners to work in labor camps. In Russia, dissentis often met with an untimely accidental death. Our ally, Saudi Arabia regularly executes citizens for actions that we consider completely normal. Mexico's economy is so bad that its citizens try to come here, illegally nonetheless, for the chance to take a job below our minimum wage! We regularly hear about acts of terror in France. In Syria, Assad has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people.

Now lets look to  the USA, the object of our anger. Whether someone likes the president or hates the president the fact remains that who the president actually is has little bearing on the daily lives on the average US citizen. People hate trump, people hated Obama and people hated Bush. As history has shown regardless of who is president, the life of the average american remains largely unchanged. Our democracy is so resilient that it even allows for an athlete to disrespect the anthem of the country that give him the right for that very disrespect. Try sitting for the national anthem in China and see how that goes. Try publicly vilifying Putin in Russia and see if you are sleeping in your own bed that night. When foreigners are looking for a safe place to park their money,  nine times out of 10, they come here. Emigration is not a problem; immigration is.

No, the USA is not perfect and there are many aspects, especially when looking at the criminal justice system, that need to be fixed. And yes, an individual, or the family of an individual that is under indictment or even incarcerated will certainly resent or even hate this country. However, when the dust clears, he will realize that even if he was a victim of an unjust and arbitrary justice system there never has been, nor will there ever be a county as great as the United States of America. GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

My Dad Was In Prison!

How will children deal with the reality that they had a parent in prison? Preparing children for prison is something that I addressed a co...