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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, March 7, 2018

The Farmer in the Hell: State Senator Gary Farmer

Why do the good suffer while the evil prosper? Questions such as these have been asked by theologians and religious scholars since the beginning of time. Is it random or is it all part of a master plan?  aIf it is a plan then it is a plan that is bigger than us and beyond our comprehension to understand. The man of faith will certainly opt for the latter while the atheist will opt for the former approach. The fact remains that from our simplistic point of view, we cannot ascertain the reason and attempting to understand the complexities of the universe will likely drive a person insane.

The criminal justice system is not very different. In many ways it is a microcosm on the universe itself in that it seems that prosecutions are handed down at random. As was pointed out in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, if we are to become over zealous in prosecuting politicians, we will find that almost every American has violated some law at some point.

However, I am not even referring to that sort of randomness. No, what I am referring to is even within an individual case, it often seems as though prosecutors draw lots to determine who they are going to target and who they will leave alone. From the standpoint of a defendant, this can be very frustrating. Indeed, I myself have asked myself why I was targeted when many individuals, including many with whom I was associated did the same exact activity that landed me in in prison.  True, at the time we all believed we were doing nothing wrong, but at the end of the day, I  agreed to plead guilty to something done my plenty of others alongside me. Yet they were not prosecuted. Is it fair? No. I did not let it bother me and simply chalked it up to the fact that I was, as a result of my own actions and position, more visible than the others. Besides, it isn't as if I was going to tell the feds to prosecute other people. Sometimes you just have to accept your fate. I was completely past it. At least I thought I was.

I am going to try to keep this brief as much of this will be covered in the book. As with any Ponzi scheme, the perpetrator cannot work alone; he needs co-conspirators. Since Scott Rothstein was in the structured settlement business, he needed lawyers to vouch for what he was doing. Without going into detail, during the summer of 2009, many of the settlements were class action type lawsuits. Now Rothstein, was a labor and employment  lawyer and class action law was clearly, by his own admission outside his area of expertise. Well, it is a good thing he was head of a lawyer with a class action division! It is even better that the head of that division was none other than Gary Farmer. Yes Gary Farmer who is now State Senator Gary Farmer from Broward County.

So who was Gary Farmer? Well by all accounts, Gary Farmer was a damn good lawyer. Scott touted his as his "qui tam and class action" guy. Indeed, Gary Farmer was involved in one of the largest whistle blower cases in history whereby Eli Lilly entered into a $1.42 billion settlement for unlawful marketing of a drug called Zyprexa. Bob Norman, who has done his share of inaccurate hit jobs on me does a pretty nice hob summing it up. http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/inside-the-rothstein-swindle-part-ii-6449360 It also seems that Gary Farmer settled two other cases against Eli Lilly at his firm set up with RRA alumni Seth Lehrman and Brad Edwards. (We will get to Edwards another time)

Now obviously, when Rothstein started marketing class action cases, we were curious how he migrated from run of the mill Stormy Daniels type settlements to cases involving companies that were doing billions in revenues every year. Scott told me that all questions regarding these cases should simply be directed to Gary Farmer. Gary, he told me, "sees things in cases and is able to find class action cases from one plaintiff". I decided that I was going to google Gary Farmer to see if he really was involved in a billion dollar settlement and sure enough, it checked out. So when Scott suggested that I speak to Farmer, that is exactly what I did.

Multiple times, in the office and at the bar downstairs I spoke with Gary Farmer about the "confidential class action cases" against Pratt and Whitney and Dole Foods. Gary confirmed that these were his cases and that he was involved in the qui tam case itself. He and Scott, he told me, were waiting for the right time to present this to the federal government. So now I had confirmation. Gary and I spoke a few times over the next few months, but then after the collapse I basically forgot about him. But make no mistake about it, now-Senator Gary Farmer made it clear that these settlements were real and that he was involved in the cases.

One thing that inmates do in prison is watch TV. It really is our only way of knowing what is going on in the world. Imagine my surprise one day when watching one of the local channels, I see that Gary Farmer was running for State Senator from Broward County. I even remarked to someone that there us no way this guy can win. Someone,  I thought, would dig up all of the Rothstein dirt. Surprisingly, it never happenned. On election night, while the rest of the country was shocked to see that Trump had won the presidency, I was more shocked to see that Gary Farmer was victorious in his race as well. How could this be?  But again I forgot about it. Then three weeks ago, I watched as Senator Gary Farmer stood on the podium with the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting and again I was amazed that this man, aside from not having been prosecuted is now holding elective office and holding himself out a savior for these victims. Unbelievable!!!!

Now this is not meant to be an expose on Gary Farmer. The fact remains, however, that had Gary Farmer simply told the truth, Rothstein would have imploded a lot earlier on. Hundreds of millions of dollars would not have been invested in these supposed class action cases. Based on what I ultimately did plea to, I  in all likelihood would not t been indicted or gone to prison. But Gary Farmer was probably making more at RRA than at his previous job and did exactly what his boss told him to do. And for that, many people paid the price.

So why wasn't Gary Farmer prosecuted? Why was he not even disbarred? How is he now holding public office? Maybe the prosecutors felt there simply was not enough on him. Maybe he was just not important enough. Or maybe, just maybe it really is all random. One thing is for certain; the people of Broward could do much better.

Of course it also helps when your father was a chief judge on the 4th District Court of Appeals! http://www.4dca.org/judges/farmer.shtml

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