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.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Current Events: Weiner and Rothstein

Over the course of the past year or so, I have given some opinions based on my unique experience going through the complexities of the criminal justice system. Periodically, events in the press present themselves and accentuate points that I have made in various blogs. During the last week, two completely disconnected events have been directly on point on two topics I have written about at length in the previous year.

The first event was the sentencing of the now infamous from US representative, Anthony Weiner. Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with a minor. He also must register as a sex offender which will affect him for the rest of his life.  I think everyone will agree that this a truly depraved individual who got off relatively easy in light of the fact that he is essentially a predator who has spent the better part of the last 10 years preying on underage girls.

As discussed in http://www.whitecollarguru.com/2017/03/the-plight-of-white-collar-that-is.html , The Plight of the White, I discuss how the criminal justice system is unnecessarily harsh toward white collar felons. I discuss how the bulk of the commutations issued by Obama were for non violent drug offenders. I discussed that often times the reason is political; wall street type guys tend to be demonized by the media. I make the argument that even  post release, the white collar felon is treated disproportionately harsh compared to non white collar crimes. This also touches on reasons to take a plea as discussed in http://www.whitecollarguru.com/2016/12/to-plea-or-not-to-plea-that-is-question.html and http://www.whitecollarguru.com/2016/12/to-plea-or-not-to-plea-part-2.html

And then we have Anthony Weiner. Is there no greater example of the dysfunction that prevails when it comes to sentencing guidelines. Who is more of a threat to society, a sexual predator or someone who made $100 thousand based on insider trading. Who is more dangerous, a politician who accepted a bribe or someone with a history of sending explicit pictures to underage girls and asking them to strip for him? In short, who is more of a threat to society, Jeff Skilling, Rod Blogojevich or Anthony Weiner. As a parent, the answer is clear; Anthony Weiner given the opportunity will do this again and is a serious threat to society. I'm not sure the other two could commit the same crime even if they tried.

One would assume that Weiner, because of his propensity to re-offend and because he preyed on children would have received the most severe sentence. However, consider that while Weiner received a 21 month sentence, Skilling received a sentence of 24 years (it was later reduced to 14) and Blagojevich got 14 years. Yes, the Skilling and Blago went to trial while Weiner took a plea, but does that justify such a disparity. True, Blago and Skilling will serve the bulk of their time at a camp while Weiner will not be eligible to go to a camp, but I'm pretty sure those two would give up the camp to knock 12 years off their sentences. Clearly, something is wrong here. Any system that punishes a Skilling to close to 10 times what a reprehensible animal such as Weiner gets is truly biased against the white collar felon.

The second event hits a little close to home. I have generally avoided speaking about the specifics of my case or the people involved, including the main perpetrator because I felt it detracts from the mission of the blog. However yesterday, some news did come out that relates to my discussion on cooperating with the government  http://www.whitecollarguru.com/2017/05/is-it-ok-to-snitch.html . I go through the pros and cons on cooperating in the interest of reducing time spent in prison.

Yesterday, it was revealed that Scott Rothstein, the mastermind of the scheme that sent over 30 people, including myself to prison will not receive a reduction from his 50 year sentence. I'm not going to go into details here whether I was a victim, co-conspirator or somewhere in between. For that you have to wait for the book to come out. Of course you can read a bit of it at https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/97336462-life-in-the-super-fast-lane. In any event, I am not embarrassed to state that knowing that this low life will not be a free man until he is 90 gave me no small amount of joy. In all likelihood he will die in prison, hopefully only after years of being somebody's girlfriend and very close to the end of the sentence.

But I digress. A little background is necessary. Rothstein did not go to trial. There was no point. He plead guilty and hoped for a lenient sentence in the 20 year range. No such luck. While the feds asked for 40 years, the judge gave him 50. Whoops! However, even before he took a plea Rothstein began cooperating. He managed to get a mafia figure on tape conspiring to commit a crime resulting in the figure going to prison. For this Rothstein was understandably put in the witness protection program while in prison. Even now, his name does not come up in the Bureau of Prisons database. While Rothstein continued to talk, the prosecutors filed a Rule 35 saying that they would ad some point in the future recommend a reduction in his sentence as a reward for his cooperation. At the time they said they were leaving it open ended as while the rules require that sentence reduction recommendations be submitted within a year of sentencing, Rothstein was not done talking. As such, they submitted and aid they would issue the recommendation at a later date.

When cooperating, there is one critical component; you need to tell the truth. If the prosecutors think a defendant is lying, he can say goodbye to the reduction. Unfortunately for Rothstein, he is either incapable of telling the truth or does not know the difference between truth and lie or has convinced himself the lies are true. To this day, I am not sure which of the three applies to him. Regardless, the prosecutors, it seems figured out early on that Rothstein was lying. They did not even want to call him as a witness at the one trial that actually took place. He was called as a defense witness. During his deposition, I was the target of many of his lies.  In any event, Rothstein did not keep his end of the bargain. Why didn't he just tell the truth? That is a question you need to ask him, if you can find him that is. The result of course was that yesterday the prosecutors filed a motion with the court that because Rothstein lied, he will not be getting his sentence reduction. And my message to Scott? Happy New Year! Oh, and be nice to Bubba!

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